– 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.
– 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.
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:
“BROCK LESNAR is a MONSTER! BROCK LESNAR is THE BEAST INCARNATE! BROCK LESNAR is a CONQUEROR! BROCK LESNAR is THE NEW KING OF KINGS! BROCK LENSAR is the MASTER OF THE BROCKTAGON! BROCK LESNAR is a WHITE MALE AGE 35! BROCK LESNAR has started the BROCK OF AGES! BROCK LENSAR’S name should be changed to BROCK MORE-snar because BROCK LESNAR is MORE than LESS! BROCK LESNAR is BROCK-OLI!”
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.
Best: HEY DAVID OTUNGA IS ON RAW AGAIN
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.
Worst: Jinder, Close The Window, Bro
I still like the basic idea of the Jinder Mahal/The Ryback feud — Ryback shows up and destroys a bunch of nobodies, Jinder takes offense because ANYBODY could destroy those nobodies, and he’s right, but he’s underestimating Ryback’s actual potential — but Jinder committed an unforgivable crime on Raw: not closing the window.
I’m not a pro wrestler but I spent some time in pro wrestling school (because you should always at least attempt to know what the hell you’re writing about), and one of the first goddamn things they taught me was to “close the window” … to bring your arms in close and eliminate those gigantic gaps of space between your arms and the thing you’re supposed to be hurting on the other guy, because it’s not supposed to really hurt them, but it’s supposed to f**king LOOK like it hurts. You’d think “make it look like it hurts” would be the most obvious thing about learning to wrestle, but here’s Jinder Mahal putting on a camel clutch ON RAW by clasping his hands together like 8 inches in front of Ryback’s chin and Chicken Dancing his elbows out as far as he can. Ryback’s grimacing and trying to sell it because that’s his job, but Jinder is not doing him any favors.
Cena does this with the STF all the time, like he’s trying to crush your head with his forearms instead of locking the face (the “F” part). Maybe the announcers could’ve been like “Jinder’s too confident so he’s not locking the hold in tightly enough” instead of LOOK AT THE POWER OF JINDER MAHAL BLERGH so Ryback powering out would’ve had some logic behind it and the ACTUAL camel clutch could still have some worth. Who am I kidding? I’m surprised Cole and Lawler even know who Jinder Mahal is. There’s an 80% chance Lawler thinks he’s Alberto Del Rio in a turban.
Worst: Sheamus Is The Worst Person In The World
Ah crap, here’s one of those places where I have to write about WWE babyfaces being a dog’s asshole. Nope, not gonna do it.
To briefly recap what happened at SummerSlam, Sheamus (the good guy, because he’s great and white) hit Alberto Del Rio (the bad guy, because he’s great and not) with a shoe and covered him for a pin. Del Rio brought Ricardo into the ring and introduced the shoe, so that’s not the bad part. The bad part is that Del Rio got his foot on the rope before the three count and Sheamus got away with it anyway, even after everyone saw the replay. Sheamus posed and cheered as Del Rio “whined” in the ring, because someone wronging you is only valid if you’re likable.
On Raw, Ricardo tried to distract the referee in the ADR/Randy Orton match and Sheamus ran him off, which is perfectly cromulent. Del Rio runs up and Carlitos Orton, covers him for the pin, Orton gets his foot on the rope. The referee is out of position and doesn’t see it, so Sheamus REACHES INTO THE RING TO GRAB THE REFEREE and direct him to the foot on the rope. The referee thinks it’s PERFECTLY FINE to be GRABBED BY A WRESTLER FROM OUTSIDE THE RING AND TOLD WHAT TO DO. Del Rio is rightfully enraged, which leaves him open for an Ace Crusher, and he loses. Jerry Lawler’s call: “Good job!” Sheamus is all AW SHUCKS about it and Del Rio gets what he deserves.
You know, for being cheated at SummerSlam. Draw your own conclusions. There’s nothing else on Raw that will make me write about how these guys are awful babies, I’m sure of it.
Best: Antonio Cesaro’s Celebratory SummerSlam Tout
Antonio Cesaro is right behind Derrick Bateman as my favorite WWE Touter. I want him and Aksana to do their Foreign Language Bit about it.
Aksana: “In Russian!”
Aksana: “In Chinese!”
Aksana: “In Polish!”
Aksana: “In French!”
Cesaro: “le tout”
Alternate punchline –
Aksana: “In German!”
Best: Damien Sandow Beat You In Less Than Three Minutes, Fat Man
Come on, at least let me get off the page before I have to write about this again.
Damien Sandow, my intellectual savior and martyr, has sneak-attacked Brodus Clay over the last few weeks. Brodus wanted a straight-up one-on-one match to destroy Sandow, even mentioning during the WWE ’13 panel how he was excited to have Sandow in the game so he could slap him around any time he wanted. Brodus finally gets that match on Raw and Sandow pins him in less than three minutes with a roll-up. In response to the loss, Brodus attacks Sandow, splashes him and dances with a bunch of kids.
I don’t understand any of this. They’re f**king with me at this point. Sandow is clearly the bad guy here, but instead of getting another match to even the score of a Night Of Champions thing when his leg is totally healed, Brodus just Pearl Harbors Sandow for no reason other than poor-ass sportsmanship and then INVITES CHILDREN INTO THE RING TO DANCE WITH HIM LIKE HE’D WON. And the kids dance, because they’re stupid kids and weren’t paying attention anyway. I would’ve killed for one kid, just ONE KID to wander away from the dance party to check on Sandow.
Worst: “The Tights”
The justification for Brodus’ attack, of course, is that Sandow “cheated” to win by “grabbing the tights”.
I want you to look at that picture on the right. The idea behind “pulling the tights” is to get unfair leverage on a guy so he can’t kick out. How much leverage does it look like Damien Sandow has here, and how much MORE leverage do you think he got closing his hand with 1/1000th of Clay’s singlet in it? Brodus outweighs him by like 200 pounds. If that minuscule amount of leverage (“leverage”) kept Brodus from kicking out, that’s on him. It’s certainly not a crime warranting a sneak attack and a bunch of children dancing on your grave.
Worst: Shawn Michaels Looks In Triple H’s Closet, Finds His Old Shirt, Clutches It, Bursts Into Tears
Okay, I gave this video a Worst, but it’s also an ironic Best for being the funniest moment of Raw.
WWE visits Shawn Michaels in his home in San Antonio, because having your arm broken means you can’t leave your house. Shawn mournfully recounts the “end of an amazing career” for Triple H, a guy who is in control of the company, beat the WWE Champion less than a year ago, came closer than anyone ever has to beating the Undertaker at WrestleMania less than six months ago and went 30 minutes with an unstoppable MMA monster and sent him stumbling away with vomit in his mouth LAST NIGHT. The coolest, toughest, smartest person in the room loses one match and gets hurt and suddenly we’ve got to set him adrift on a wooden raft and burn his body?
This is what I was talking about in the SummerSlam report. Triple H wants these special moments of reflection, but he’s never been vulnerable enough to deserve them. You were clotheslining Brock Lesnar out of the ring like it was nothing what, two weeks ago? And now you’re sad about losing so we cry littering Indian tears for you? Get over yourself. You and your water body and fat-looking suit and Inappropriate Ponytail will be back and down our throats before they can design you another shitty Latin t-shirt.
You’re too good for this, Shawn. You don’t need to be your pal’s frail conscience.
Best: A Still Frame Of Triple H Being Valiant Because LOL, They Can’t Show The Video
You know the white board for Raw said “show footage of Triple H’s emotional farewell, talk about it with Owen Voices” on Sunday morning. On Sunday night, Jeff the Production Guy (or whoever) is nervously asking, “so uh, do you still want us to show it” as Vince wipes it away with the crotch of his pants.
It would’ve been pretty cool of them to show Triple H making I Love You I’m Sorry face at us while we scream YOU TAPPED OUT at him, or at least attribute that lazy “Bizarro Land” tag to it. I spent three hours waiting for my Tout to show up, too, but I guess they were too busy wedging Khloe Kardashian’s Snuffleupagus-looking ass between me and The Game’s ego.
Worst: Welp, Welcome Back, Dave
I didn’t expect a lot from David Otunga vs. The Big Show, but after that surprisingly good match Otunga had with Sheamus a while back (and his upcoming role alongside Oscar Winner Holly Barry) you’d think they would’ve at least given him some kicks to the knee or something. Otunga got squashed, and the words “REAL MOVIE STARRING BLACK PEOPLE < FAKE WRESTLING WAR MOVIE STARRING RANDY ORTON" flashed on my screen. Maybe they should bring in the cast of The Day to beat Big Show now. I don’t remember who said it, but I love that The Day’s plot is seriously, “the lights go out, so now everybody has crossbows”.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Wade Barrett’s return will get the Nexus back together, since all the Nexus guys are awesome now. A Wade/Justin Gabriel/Heath Slater/David Otunga/Darren Young/The Ryback/Daniel Bryan group looks pretty f**king sweet in 2012, doesn’t it?
Worst: Parejas Increibles
AJ continued her sassy skip into Teddy Long Land by making a tag team match between rivals to “teach them about anger management” or something, and it ended up being a five-ish minute mailbox with about a minute of Daniel Bryan being awesome and roughly four of Zack Ryder being the least important Important person on the WWE roster.
Worst: Michael Cole Namedropping “That Old Show” NXT
Worst: But No, Seriously, Zack Ryder
I can’t remember the last time Zack Ryder has a showcase match on Raw (or a match on Raw), and at least back in December you could be all, “heh, Zack got beat quick but he’s MAKING IT” about it. Now he shows up looking dumb in a graphic and Cole is all, “REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED BETWEEN ZACK RYDER AND KANE??”, and Lawler goes “heh, I sure do!” and maybe mentions the wheelchair sport and completely glosses over the fact that Kane systematically manipulated John Cena’s hatred by using Ryder and the girl Ryder was crushing on against him, tried to kidnap his would-be girlfriend, BROKE HIS BACK and F**KING TRIED TO LITERALLY MURDER HIM WITH FIRE. The wheelchair is a great thing to remember, yeah, but if John Cena hadn’t pumped iron that day Zack Ryder would be IN HELL burning in F**KING FIRE.
Also, Miz and Daniel Bryan can’t STAND each other!
But seriously, Zack Ryder’s only purpose in this match was to get beaten up a little, then get beaten up a LOT when his team won (?) the match. I can’t think of someone who is passed off as an important person in the company, someone who gets their own DVD (Kurt Angle never got a DVD), who has 15 different t-shirts and headbands for sale at 10 merch tables at 300 shows a year and serves ZERO purpose on Raw. He’s the living version of the Anonymous Raw General Manager’s podium. Dude should’ve just pulled a Gail Kim, rolled out of the ring, walked to the back and quit so he could make a monster truck full of money in Japan or a Sedan full of money in TNA (or a large envelope full of money in ROH) and tell WWE to go f**k themselves with their warehouse of Broski glasses.