A few things to go over before we begin.
– Normally the fine folks at WWEFanNation upload clips of Raw throughout the day on Tuesday, and by the time I’m done slaving away writing paragraphs about Kelly Kelly’s boobs I can plug in the appropriate videos. For some reason those videos never showed up today, so I’m going to chalk it up to WWE’s tour of Canada creating YouTube issues and/or somebody at the WWE front office finding out about Best and Worst and not wanting you to see their show without the correct number of “Royal Pains” commercials. I’m bound by doctor-patient confidentiality! I’m your brother!!!
– Comments on this post, be it feedback or just your thoughts on Raw, are appreciated. As funny as it is, I do ask that we move away from the “john cena gay” gag, as “john cena gay” has started popping up on everything on Uproxx and makes us look like a weird niche hate site. If Best and Worst has to have a running gag, let it be something that doesn’t confuse and dissuade the new people.
– Sheamus vs. Mark Henry is the main event of Smackdown this week, so if there was ever a week for me to start doing Best and Worsts of that, it’s this one. I’m also considering doing a live blog of next week’s Super Duper Live Smackdown, if that sounds like a thing you’d like.
– I’m going to be in Los Angeles next month enjoying the Dodgers, Van Gogh and the Matterhorn (in that order) so I’m looking for someone notable and accomplished to fill in for Best and Worst of Night of Champions and/or the next night’s Best and Worst of Raw. Shoot me an e-mail if you possess these qualities: 1) you are funny, and can send me something funny you wrote as proof, 2) you are able to write about wrestling in a somewhat positive way and don’t ever use the phrase “came out to a big pop”, 3) you are interested.
Anyway, enjoy the recap, and thank you for your patronage. Vote Bateman, in case this season of NXT ever decides to end.
Worst, But Eventually Best: This Really Might Be A Re-Reun
Over dinner, I asked Destiny to name the worst thing that could happen on Raw. Her response: “Triple H becomes the number one contender for the WWE Championship”. She asks me the same question. I say, “Triple H makes himself the number one contender and wrestles Alberto Del Rio in the main event, with Stephanie McMahon as the special guest referee and CM Punk as the special ringside enforcer. Somehow it ends with Stephanie pinning CM Punk and winning the championship”. Guess which one of us watched a hell of a lot of WCW growing up?
CM Punk mentioned it in the opening segment, and it’s true … large portions of last night felt like a re-run, and for the life of me I thought the “everybody comes out one at a time and says why they should be WWE Champion” act was going to lead where it always does — to a tag team match featuring whoever was out there. Instead we got the announcement of a free version of a match they’ve used to sell the last two pay-per-views and an extended moment of Punk and John Cena doing their best to make Alberto Del Rio seem like a worthless afterthought. Triple H marched out for the first of two special, verbose appearances and my first draft of this paragraph was just WORST copied and pasted 400 times in a row. Funny enough, it all ended up okay … they went somewhere with it and ended up turning their tropes upside down by avoiding the prerequisite tag team match, avoiding any pedigreeing of the new champion and giving observant viewers a reason for the mostly chill, occasionally violent Alberto Del Rio to flip out and go crazy at the end of the show.
If a bad segment builds to a good one, does it make the bad segment good? Remember the final episode of the Cell battle that is literally 22 minutes of two kamehamehas struggling against each other, but when it finally ends Gohan powers through and destroys every single cell in Cell’s body, and the blast is so powerful it goes like halfway to the moon? No? Uh, probably should’ve kept that one to myself.
Worst: John Cena Is Shooting The Wrong Way
John Cena’s jokey narrator voice is the worst, especially when stops using it to recap motivations and starts “shooting” on folks. I feel like Cena is great at a lot of things, but winking and nudging are not on the list. A shoot comment (as in “a comment you might feed to a panda”) only seems to work (get it) when you reference something everyone knows or assumes but is not socially acceptable to say. Everybody knows Triple H is married to Stephanie McMahon, and everyone knows Stephanie is Vince’s daughter, so when you say “Triple H is only successful because he’s married to the boss’s daughter!” people are gonna go “ooooh”. If you say “Alberto Del Rio isn’t rich and WWE rents those cars, come on, he doesn’t even know what the car is, this is all fake” people aren’t going to say oooh, they’re going to say “oh, yeah, he’s right, this sucks”. It’s the difference in saying “The Big Bossman is fat” and “The Big Bossman isn’t really a cop”. That’s a dangerous line, a line I trust Punk to walk and Cena to plummet over with one of his shoulderblock attempts.
I’m giving a tiny supplementary best to Alberto (giving Bests to Alberto Del Rio is what I do) for reacting by squinting his eyes at them and not having any idea what they’re talking about, because he exists in the WWE Universe and not in the weird Earth-B thing they’re doing where everybody is self-aware and nobody gets over.
Best: Jack Tunney Is In On The Conspiracy
Things to reference for maximum nostalgic Lulz
Macho Man Randy Savage’s pink underwear
WWF Ice Cream Bars
WWF President Jack Tunney
4. Wrestling Buddies
5. The “Who do you think you are?/THAAT’S HUUULK HOOOOGANNN” dialogue from the Wrestling Buddies commercial
6. “Grab Them Cakes” from The Wrestling Album
If Triple H has a birthday party and Punk interrupts with, “I see you grabbing them cakes, KEVIN NASH. Is that all you do?” we know we’ve officially run out of funny old things.
Worst: John Cena’s Man-Crush On CM Punk
Study question: Why is John Cena so obsessed with CM Punk?
It’s weird. Punk wanted to beat Cena and take his WWE Championship, so he cost Cena a match against R-Truth and squatted on the stage to run his mouth. That led to him being suspended, so what did Cena do? Go to the boss and demand CM Punk get a shot at the WWE Champion because he EARNED IT. That’s fine. Then the match at Money in the Bank happens and Cena is about to win … but stops, rolling out of the ring and eventually costing himself the match because of how CM Punk EARNED THAT SHOT and DESERVED IT. Summerslam happens and Cena loses with his foot on the ropes, but doesn’t seem to care because CM Punk is real champion who earned the right to face him. Del Rio cashes in on Punk, so does Punk get mad? No, Punk barely cares. But Cena, Oh God, John Cena says Alberto Del Rio is a PAPER CHAMPION WID A BRIEFCASE who cashed in after Gladiator Champion Who Earned It CM Punk beat him in a HELLUVA MATCH. And then last night Cena immediately dismisses Del Rio (who not only won Money in the Bank, but a number one contenders match a few weeks before) because he “doesn’t look like” the “one man in this company who can go toe-to-toe with ME”, CM Punk. He even called Alberto “Captain Third Wheel”, as though he was tagging along too closely to their relationship.
Seriously John, what the hell is your deal? You’re like a boyfriend who got cheated on and blames the other man.
Worst: History’s Worst Clotheslines
I don’t want to keep ragging on John Morrison every week, but during last night’s WWE Championship match he did two things I can’t seem to get over. You know how Morrison badly injured his neck a couple of times and it kept him out of action, so whenever he sells he brings his arm around and holds his neck, and all of his opponents work the neck? Yeah, when that happens you shouldn’t have a Russian leg sweep be one of your comeback moves. It’s like when guys spend 15 minutes hitting Rob Van Dam in the back, and as soon as he starts coming back he does Rolling Thunder and hops around like nothing happened, but he holds his stomach on the frog splash. I hate Rob Van Dam. Don’t do what Rob Van Dam does.
The second thing (or things) were those impossibly terrible clotheslines he was throwing when Del Rio flipped over the top and crawled back into the ring. Holy SH*T those things were terrible. I really tried to come up with something worse to jokingly compare them to, but no, Kelly Kelly’s old jumping clotheslines where she’d tuck her legs up and hit you with her wrist looked like they hurt more than these. When wrestlers miscommunicate and accidentally bump shoulders off the ropes and kinda stumble sideways until somebody punches to get it back on track? THAT looks like it hurt more than these. Seriously, look at his body weight. I know you can’t really process how things look from the hard cam when you’re supposed to be bumping, but Jesus, Del Rio should’ve just no-sold it and smacked him in the face.
And while we’re on the subject, when did Morrison decide a double-leg takedown was one of his moves? Del Rio should’ve sprawled out and countered that horsesh*t in about half a second. John Morrison needs to drop out of those improv comedy classes he was supposedly taking and enroll at the goddamn CHIKARA Wrestle Factory.
Best: Del Rio Already Looks Better Than Miz, Swagger Or Mysterio
This isn’t another fellated Best for Del Rio, but for the way he’s been handled as champion. The Miz held the WWE Championship for 163 days, and his only victories in that span were disqualifications and Alex Riley Guardian Force summons. Jack Swagger held the World Heavyweight Championship for almost three months and I can’t recall a single thing bout it. Rey Mysterio gets worse when he holds a title, transforming Vulture Squad style from a guy who never loses into a guy who never wins, jobbing to the Great Khali like so much Caylen Croft and losing to Perfectly Fresh John Cena on the same night as his title victory.
In the last eight days, Alberto Del Rio cashed in Money in the Bank to defeat CM Punk and become WWE Champion, but he’s also defended that belt in good-to-great-to-John Morrison matches against Rey Mysterio (last Monday), Daniel Bryan (on Friday) and John Morrison (last night). Like Michael Cole said, that’s a career for some people, and in a week he’s brought more legitimacy to the WWE Championship than any amount of shoot promos and non-title losses to folks could hope to. I’m one of those guys who thinks I should have to pay to see the WWE Champion wrestle WWE Championship matches (especially in an era with no direct competition and no need for crash TV), but if he’s going to compete on every show, he should be pinning believable mid-card guys like Bryan and Morrison, and not hoofing it in makeshift STRANGE BEDFELLOWS tag team main-events.
Or losing to the Great Khali.
Best: Logan Should Eat Sh*t
I’m hoping this sign made the show as insurance, so Logan would never admit this Raw was about Jackson.
Worst: I Want To Like This Beth Phoenix Promo, BUT I DON’T
This is how WWE Creative’s last meeting went down.
Writer #1: “Beth Phoenix is going to get a title shot, then beat up Kelly Kelly and tell her the time of pretty blonde bimbo champions is over.”
Writer #2: “okay”
Writer #1: “And then on Smackdown, Natalya is going to beat up AJ and basically say the same thing. And then we make them a team.”
Writer #2: “okay, sounds good”
Writer #1: “Right, so then Kelly Kelly beats Beth at Summerslam.”
Writer #2: “And then what happens”
Writer #1: “that’s as far as I got”
Writer #2: “How long will it take you to write more story”
Writer #1: “like eight months”
Writer #2: “okay we’ll just have them stall until you’re done”
And that leads us to last night, which felt like the biggest Copy/Paste of last week ever. Seriously, last week Eve Torres pinned a Bella Twin, so Beth and Natalya walked out dressed like roller derby girls who secretly aren’t that pretty and golf clapped. This week, Eve Torres pinned a Bella Twin, so Beth and Natalya walked out dressed like girls who want to be Bettie Page but clearly are not Bettie Page and golf clapped. The only difference is that this week we all got second-hand picture-in-picture embarrassment from Beth saying sentences about how great Kelly Kelly seems and Natalya saying “but we don’t” at the end of them like she’s trying to start a “what” chant. People say we want to be pretty like Kelly, but we don’t! People say we want to beat Kelly in a wrestling match, but we don’t. So what do we want? WE HAVE NO F**KING IDEA. And Tori Amos albums, from the way we’re dressed.
Worst: It’s Official, You Made Them Want Puppies Again
The “we want puppies” chant during the Eve and Bella Twin match is the most dangerous red flag of the year, because your “put everybody in pants and have them roll each other up every thirty seconds” experiment has failed. You have to give people joshi or you have to give them lingerie pillow fights, there is literally no room at our collective inn for this phony brand of almost wrestling. “I’m good at sports, but also sexy!” sucks when you aren’t actually good at sports. Look at that Price Is Right model who started driving for NASCAR. Look at Danica Patrick. Look at Anna Kournikova.
On the same tip, look at somebody like Hope Solo. Hope Solo looks like a seven foot tall version of Brandon Teena but is legitimately good at soccer, so she set the horny Internet world on fire for about two months of this year. That’s a lesson so few people seem to understand … a perfect, beautiful woman is great, but what’s even better is a passably-okay looking woman who is great at SOMETHING. WWE looks at Sara Del Ray and thinks she’s not what they want, and they’re right, but because she’s great at wrestling and not an excuse for a pee break she’d have more fan sites and more signs and more of a following in a month than five years of Eve Torres in a bikini. How many people do I know who think Sara Del Ray is the most beautiful woman ever? More than a few. How many people would think that if she had to pop her coochie before doing a handspring? How many wrestling fans would think SDR was hot if she was a normal lady who worked at the nurse’s office? We’ve got a way of justifying the beauty of people who do what we love well, and that’s a severely, depressingly absent thing in WWE.
Worst: The Worst Finish In Pro Wrestling
The less said about Alex Riley the better, but “guy gets distracted by something happening outside the ring, then turns around and immediately loses to whatever happens” is the worst finish ever. Worse than the Dusty finish, worse than a referee botching a three count and having to point at the timekeeper for thirty seconds while everybody stand around confused, worse than the “we landed at the SAME TIME” cage match escape, worse than the Tommy Rich at your local independent fed battling to the back for a DQ after four minutes of shoulder holding. It’s wretched, and they do it all the time. They did it twice last night. I know that you want to protect your guys and make them look like they lost without actually losing to the other guy’s science, but damn, it’s Jack Swagger. The only thing that could save Swagger at this point is a Machine mask.
Worst: Woof, This Middle Part Of Raw Is Terrible
I’m getting very close to typing AND FURTHERMORE, F**K WWE FOREVERRRR on this page so I’m going to sum it up with a collective worst: I honestly enjoyed the show a lot, but this middle part between Kelly Kelly and Eve’s pre-commercial break 3/4th camera stance pow-wow and Dolph Ziggler magically knocking Vickie Guerrero down and costing Jack Swagger a match against Player One is just the pits. Just terrible, water-treading wrestling that accomplishes nothing and makes everything look like a cut scene you should be skipping. I like a lot of these people, too. I like Ziggler a lot, I think Vickie managing Swagger is a great idea, I’ve warmed to Kelly Kelly. It’s just… I don’t know, I was almost hoping for Hornswoggle to come jogging across the screen with a cleaver-wielding Chavo Guerrero in tow just so I could have something construtive to bitch about.
Counterpoint to this is that if I was doing The Best And Worst of Impact Wrestling I’d be applauding them for not overbooking the miscarrying widow angle and for being restrained enough to just have Angelina Love and Winter clap at Mickie James. It’s all about context. Context I desperately wish I could convince myself to fast-forward through.
Best: Kevin Nash. Wait, What
So far I’ve been wrong, and I’m not afraid to admit it.
I’m enjoying Kevin Nash’s contributions to WWE programming, especially now that his hair dye is washing out and he’s got big skunk patches behind his ears and a white border around his hair-lip. Maybe he’s using “Touch Of Gray”. Nash is showing exactly the kind of vulnerability I requested from Triple H, and while I’m not wholly convinced he’s doing it on purpose he’s giving me a great reason to cheer for CM Punk to beat him to death without letting me forget that he’s 7-feet tall and enormous and could crush Punk like a bug, or less significantly, a Misfit In Action. I’m taking the January Jones defense on Nash: I think his stunted delivery and script-reading voice are on purpose, and I think when we’re done with this feeling out process and Nash gets revealed as the muscle behind somebody’s conspiratorial Corporation his “aw shucks, I wanted to fight!” and “here’s what they told me to say about you” acts will make sense. If he’s in on some grander scam, why would he let the Fat Chicks Need Love Too “Big Sexy” voice out? He’s pretending, playing a role, trying to get Punk to buy what he’s selling. Yes, I said Kevin Nash is doing a good job of selling.
Yes, there’s a very real chance that I’m full of sh*t here and that he’s just old and worse at his job than we remember, but Triple H’s selective chicken-sh*ttedness could really turn into something fantastic if played right. The ongoing suggestion that everyone in power is huddling up to pull some grand masterstroke (hopefully involving Teddy Long having another heart attack, preferably at another in-ring wedding) is interesting, because they’re saving dollars after a lifetime of spending it all in one place. It’s terrifying waiting for that other shoe to drop. You just KNOW they’re going to mess it up, right? And what happens if they don’t? I feel like Joan Osborne, asking you if you’d look at God’s face if it meant you had to believe in all the prophets.
Worst: “Triple H Your Wife Is A Hag” Can Only Go So Far
While I don’t want to come down on CM Punk for his always-exceptional work on the microphone, I do want to go ahead and say I’m laughing at Stephanie McMahon being called Triple H’s “bean-headed wife” right now, but eventually that’s going to turn into what happened when piss-poor babyface Chris Jericho called her a whore every week, and that’s not good. I think this is where what you can and can’t say to Triple H in the reality era starts to kick in. Punk hasn’t mentioned the racist trouncing of Booker T or the bisexual banana eating or the whole “f**king a corpse to make fun of a mental reprobate manslaughterer” stuff, he just keeps saying Triple H has a wife.
To those of us with wives (note: I do not have a wife), stuff like “holding a purse” isn’t a big deal. You love your partner, and you’re gonna stand there doing nothing while she tries on clothes anyway, who gives a sh*t if you’re holding a purse, you aren’t Don Draper and this is 2011. Asking your wife’s opinion about important social or financial matters doesn’t make you a “fag”, it makes you a normal person. It’s funny because we hate Triple H, but yeah, let’s let sleeping dogs with huge Connecticut asses lie. Move on to more biting material, or have Triple H reveal Tiffany as the anonymous Raw general manager and give her six months to convince Punk that drinking means you’re having fun with friends.
Best: It Was Vince, Wasn’t It
Yeah, so Punk said “I THINK IT WAS STEPHANIE WHAT HAD SENT THOSE TEXTS”, which (in the wrestling world) rules out any possibility of it being Stephanie. The obvious choices are John Laurinaitis, Triple H or some combination of the two, but Lord knows it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Triple H is innocent and Vince McMahon really is pulling an Arrested Development and making his surrogate do his power-walking dirty work. I think that’s something Vince would do. His early career was about subtle, behind-the-scenes promotion ideas, but at some point he became a growling, tonguing thing from Resident Evil who just wants everyone he employs to be miserable. Much like how the YOU DON’T WORK HEREs directed at Kevin Nash let you know that by next week he’ll be hired and shuffling out to an entrance theme, the “day-to-day operations” part of Vince’s firing let you know he’s still there, still doing things, and always one clandestine monk robe away from revealing himself as the reason for everything.
Best: The Raw GM’s Lectern
That is a lectern, right? I don’t know the difference between a lectern and a podium. Anyway, the Raw GM hasn’t been mentioned since Money in the Bank, but his whole set-up with the laptop and the microphones is still there every week to the immediate left of Cole. So what does that mean? If they were going to send him back to his home planet they would’ve just quietly removed it, but I think they’re keeping the airwaves quiet long enough for a really hot segment to get REALLY interrupted by that iPhone noise and piss people off SO HARD. It’s gonna be great, and Michael Cole’s “may I have your attention please” spiel will feel enraging and nostalgic at the same time.