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– Thanks to Casey, whose excellent GIFs make their return to the column. They’re pretty epic this week, so make sure your comments below include a brief “thanks for taking time out of your day to help Brandon with this, THESTINGER”.
– If you’re the type who only reads this column and doesn’t keep up with With Leather, be sure to check out our Golden Treasury Of Cheesy Late-80s Early-90s WWF Promo Photos. It’s even better than it sounds.
– 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. I bought my plane tickets yesterday. It’s on.
Please enjoy the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for August 28, 2012. Stick around for a live report at the end.
Worst: Jerry Lawler Knows This Isn’t How Raw Usually Begins, But He Has Something To Say
Jerry Lawler, a guy who has sat in on every episode of Raw his misguided loyalty to his ex-wife didn’t cause him to miss, opened Raw by explaining himself and calling someone out, apologizing beforehand because it’s “not the way Monday Night Raw normally starts”. Dude, this is the only way Monday Night Raw ever starts, shouldn’t you know that? Lawler pretending like 20 minutes of talking is an imposition to the WWE Universe is like Lance Storm asking if he could be serious for a minute but not being in on the joke. Jerry Lawler is being SHOOT LANCE STORM.
The actual body of the segment was solid (with 100% of the thanks for that going to CM Punk, which I’ll touch on in a minute), but man, the only thing worse than Jerry’s first words were his last. Punk runs him down for being an out-of-touch, spineless, agenda-heaving old man whose glory days were even kinda cruddy, then challenges him to a match. He tells Lawler to think about it and bails. As he’s walking away, Lawler grabs the microphone and says HEY PUNK, and a moment like that only exists in wrestling so you can follow “hey punk” with YOU’RE ON~! for a big crowd-pumping heatball. Lawler’s follow-up: “I’ll THINK about it!”
That’s got to be the worst wrestling “last word” ever, at least until I can find that clip of Earl Hebner getting his referee shirt ruined and coming back with a threatening, “I GOT ANOTHER SHIRT IN THE BACK!” Why even say anything? As a lot of people pointed out, it was way too much like Zoolander for Punk to not turn back around and ask whether or not Lawler knows he’s loco.
Best: CM Punk, Voice Of The People Who Hate Jerry Lawler
I’m still not totally on board with Punk’s new character direction — mostly because they won’t go all the way with it, and even when they GO all the way with it they pull back enough to still sell t-shirts … this is why he gets a huge crowd reaction when his music hits and they start booing him five minutes later — but I am absolutely on board with his continued quest to run Jerry Lawler’s shitty ass up the river.
Part of what I (and I’m broad enough to say “we”, assuming you think like I do) loved so much about pre-mega-success WWE heel CM Punk is that he was always sticking it to people who deserved it. When he berated Jeff Hardy (and Jeff Hardy fans) for “living in the moment” and being alcoholic pill-poppers or whatever he was RIGHt. Jeff Hardy WAS a phenomenally-talented young man who pissed away his natural gifts and was still somehow rewarded for it, and a hard-working, passionate Straight Edge guy from an independent circuit continually ran down/gutted for talent by WWE benefitted from at least six months of giving oral ass-to-mouth to a hobbling yardtard who’d rather make Aluminumummies than learn how to speak into a microphone without sounding like Arnie Grape. When he said Cena and Dwayne were getting opportunities the less popular guys could use more, he was right. When he made Vince yell I DON’T GIVE A DAMN WHAT YOU WANT at a crowd cheering for pro wrestling, he was right. These were guys who deserved our disdain for whatever misguided Internet pro wrestling reason we could imagine.
Then he started feuding with people who didn’t really deserve it. When he prodded Alberto Del Rio by calling him “amigo” and beat up Ricardo Rodriguez for little-to-no reason for a month, he wasn’t right. I mean, he was in the “WWE babyface” clear, but Berto didn’t deserve condemnation for being Mexican. When he feuded with Chris Jericho, we wanted something way better than what we got, because Punk works best when he’s mad at someone who deserves it, and Jericho was just pretending to deserve it. He feuded with Big Show, but Show was right. John Laurinaitis got called an ugly dork even when he wasn’t plotting evil, because new CM Punk thought BEING UGLY was a reason to be unsuccessful.
So the return to insulting people like Jerry Lawler is a step in the right direction, because he’s right, and people need to hear it. When he transitions this into a full-blown thing with The Rock (which will happen, hopefully, and Cena won’t STF his way into things like he normally does) it’ll be great, because the Rock deserves it, and people need to hear it. They just need to be brave, and to not be afraid of going all the way. That promo that made Jim Rome believe wrestling was real worked because he said it all, not because he said “maybe I’ll do something with the WWE Championship” and explained the rest over a four week build.
Worst: Ryback’s Music
Whoever decided Ryback’s simple, effective theme needed Mortal Kombat TEST YOUR MIGHTs all over it should be fired. It’s probably the same guy who didn’t fork out to buy Goldberg’s WCW Viking Death March and replaced it with a soundalike. I’m surprised they didn’t have him singing YOUUU-UUU’RE NEEEEXT, NUH NUH NEEEEXT over the intro.
If I ever get put in charge of WWE Creative (and it’ll happen soon … I’m already in negotiations with f**king nobody), the first thing I’ll do is initiate an “If you change somebody’s entrance theme, you have to pick a 90s R&B song as the replacement, so stop changing everybody’s themes, stupid” rule. How great would it be to see Sin Cara coming out to ‘Pony’? If they change The Ryback’s entrance theme again, it needs to be one of those movie-ending rap songs from the 90s. “R to the Y to the B to the A!” etc.
Best: Jack Swagger Gets Clotheslined, Is Now Technically Dead
I’m a pretty simple guy. I get called a “mark” by people who don’t really read the column because I talk enthusiastically about the show and don’t break down quarter-hours or give star ratings or whatever. I get called a “smark” by people who don’t really read the column because I … write about wrestling on the Internet? I don’t know. All I really know for sure is that the measure of a great (not good, but great) wrestling moment for me is that it makes me say “oh shit!” out-loud. Ryback’s clothesline to Swagger, as simple and expect as it was, made me go “oh shit!” out-loud.
That’s really it, isn’t it? Things that make you smile and forget you’re supposed to be writing a column about what you’re watching. I’ve turned fun into work, and sometimes Ryback just murders a dude with a move and I laugh and sorta pantomime it in my head because I never truly stopped being 12 years old. I’m a mark to smarks and a smark to marks, but whatever you are, f**k you if you don’t like seeing somebody get their head taken off with a clothesline.
And before I move on to how Triple H is more like Cripple H because JOKES~, I should probably explain myself. I love and respect these guys (most of these guys) for what they do, so I don’t want to see them actually get hurt. I want to see them get WRESTLING hurt. Just like how you should differentiate performers from the characters they play, it’s important to only wish simulated violence on someone. The confusing part about that is that simulated violence only really works when it looks and feels like real violence, and in wrestling you can barely ever tell the two apart. What I tell myself is that my bloodlust is for stiff clotheslines and elbow smashes to Jerry Lawler’s face, and not so much Masada putting gardening skewers in peoples’ heads. Really there’s no difference, and I’m a creep.
Sorry. The good news: Jack Swagger is almost ready for his trip to Mars!
Worst: We’re Countin’ Down Today’s Triple H And Your All-Time Favorites!
The only ways I would’ve been okay building to Triple H’s retirement speech by going back over Triple H’s career in detail are as follows:
1. They had Alberto Del Rio in the bottom right corner in picture-in-picture, yammering on about how awesome Triple H is and how cool it was to see him invade WCW. “Triple H won the WWE title in this match! I remember watching it! Ay dios mio!” or whatever. Something really exaggerated so you know they gave him an index card to read 20 seconds before taping him.
2. They show that entire May 21 Raw match between the Two Man Power Trip and Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho where Triple H tore his quad and just not make a big deal about Benoit being in it because that match was tight as f**k and should be on a DVD, but didn’t make the cut for ‘Hard Knocks’ so it’s probably lost to the ether aside from HOW’S HE EVEN ABLE T’STAND video packages.
3. Triple H actually leaving for any substantial period of time and not just jacking off all over the production team’s dry erase board.
Worst, For Probably The First Time Ever: Vickie Guerrero
Ugh, that feels horrible. Vickie gets her first Worst in ages for two big reasons:
1. Vickie interrupting the first good-ish Divas match on Raw in FOREVER isn’t a big deal, but the WAY she did it was terrible. If she’d sat at the announce table or interrupted Layla’s celebration at the end she would’ve accomplished the exact same thing, but having her stand on the ring steps, roll her eyes the whole time AND HAVE THE CAMERA CUT TO HER ROLLING HER EYES THE WHOLE TIME at the expense of the match was the WORST. You could almost see the evil ghost of Vince McMahon possessing her, cackling on the inside as Layla and Natalya try their best to put on a decent women’s wrestling match in the WWE cage and get shuffled off-screen for their efforts. YOU WANT WOMEN’S WRESTLING, WELL HEEERE IT IS, DAMMIT
I think women can be exceptional professional wrestlers and love to watch them compete as human beings (and not sexy sideshow acts … B.L.O.W., I’m looking in YOUR direction), plus I’m a big fan of Layla, Natalya and Vickie … but even I found myself distracted by Vickie’s bullshit, not paying to Natalya’s apron trap forearms or Layla’s best attempts at a Dragon Gate roll-up. It sucked a lot. I feel like they purposefully took away my experience, as fleeting as it was gonna be anyway.
2. Her post-match speech was terrible. Vickie has two voices: normal and screaming. Screaming is great, especially during his Dolph Ziggler introductions or whatever, but for any spoken piece of length she NEEDS to use the normal voice. She can work in a screechy EXCUSE ME for emphasis from time to time, but if she screams long enough you can’t really understand what she says, and all you focus on is the screeching. It was a terrible decision, and whoever put together this segment needs to watch it and lash themselves with a belt until they’ve figured it out.
Best: Natalya Remembers What Finlay Taught Her
I don’t want to go too far through this without giving a big Best to Nattie and Layla for busting their asses out there, Nattie in the figurative sense (trapping Layla in the apron, throwing that awesome brutal forearm that made Layla crumple behind it and “hide”) and Layla in the literal sense, what with all the ass busting.
The most depressing thing about the state of women wrestling in the Divas Division is that they’ve managed to collect (and discard) a group of talented women who could make something constructive out of it. The signing of Sara Del Rey is an obvious one, but you’ve got a legitimate division ace in Natalya already desperately clinging to a spot. People are convinced that Beth Phoenix is a great wrestler, so let’s see what she can do against people who really ARE. Layla tries as hard and is better than anyone realizes. The Chickbusters aren’t Speed Muscle in the ring or anything, but they’ve got enough personality to carry them through, and you’ve got women like Paige, Raquel Diaz and at least one functioning Funkadactyl ready to go. The Bellas are off to red carpet land and Kelly Kelly barely wants to be there. Pull the f**king trigger already.
Worst: So Is AJ Fired Now, Or What
Keeping it all in kayfabe and forgetting that everyone’s been fired so nobody should be in charge, Vince McMahon was relieved of his day-to-day duties for making things personal with a WWE Superstar and losing the WWE Championship to Comic-Con in the process. He was replaced by Triple H, who was removed for making things personal with a WWE Superstar. HE was replaced by John Laurinaitis, who got fired by Vince (whatever) for making things personal with a WWE Superstar. Vince replaced Big Johnny with AJ, and now what, a month removed from her position as GM she’s responding to Vickie Guerrero’s complains by slapping her in the face and clawing at her until she runs away.
So … is AJ fired for making things personal?
The truth of the matter is this: they’re making it up as they go, and they pretend like whatever’s convenient is what they’ve always done whether it is or not. But I’m forced to watch this show on its own merits, suspending disbelief and accepting the plots and characters as real life things, and … you know what? When I started this paragraph I wanted it to be an indignant thing about storytelling, but f**k it, I just want John Laurinaitis back. Fire AJ and bring back John Laurinaitis. It’s convenient for you this week. DO IT.
Best: Daniel Bryan, Master Of Skits
If you’re one of those Everyman Wrestling Assholes who thinks athletic pro wrestling is “doing flips and stunts” and thinks people under 6’2 can’t have personalities or be interesting, I hope you’re enjoying the biodegradable Tupperware substitute full of vegan ‘crow’ Daniel Bryan’s been shoving down your throat since January.
WWE backstage comedy skits are the worst, and yet somehow My Boy D-Bry Right There sells them convincingly enough to make them real, providing a desperately needed straight man who also happens to be out of his goddamn mind. That’s perfect. You can’t just stand in the locker room and make faces at Mark Henry’s Hand Son, you gotta get out there and scream in the faces of children in goat masks and threaten Scorpio Sky in Anger Management. You’ve got to put tape over the yeses on your shirt and write NO on them in magic marker so people will buy the exact same shirt twice. Hell, the guy even made a Tout featuring Hornswoggle amazing, and if I was making a list of the most impossible things to make enjoyable, “Tout” and “Hornswoggle” would be a solid numbers one and two.
They’re giving him the ball. He’s not only running with it, he’s gorilla slamming that shit, and the fact that it’s a football will not stop his dunking. Daniel Bryan is the Best In The World, and in a perfect world we’ll stop exclaiming things in his face one day and start chanting it like people who pay attention.
I’m really happy that these anger management segments are (I assume) continuing next week. I can’t wait to see their anger collages. Here’s the With Leather anger collage:
Bestish: This Was Probably The Best Miz/John Cena Match Ever, But Enhhhh
I try not to comment a lot in the open discussion threads (because people who post there read this column, and I don’t want to rehash too many jokes), but one comment I had to leave was about the announcement of Another Goddamn Miz And John Cena match. Miz and Cena are wrestling’s oil and water. On paper it’s fine, aside from there being no realistic way for a guy like Miz to beat a leaping tank monster like Cena, but in reality it’s almost always a draggy thing full of unnecessary taunting, crummy storyline shoehorning and Cena magically coming back to life because our clapping made it so to dispatch Miz like a f**king Imp.
Those things still happened in last night’s match, but Miz is taking himself seriously enough now that it was … better. I liked watching it, even if a character who doesn’t care about secondary titles shouldn’t be pinning your Intercontinental Champion clean and the backstage fallout segment about it had Miz doing his “I beat John Cena at WrestleMania I am the most see whatever” thing again. I guess the best part is that it was good enough of a match to bump Miz/Cena down a spot on my List Of People I Never Want To See Wrestle Again, which currently stands at
1. Dolph Ziggler and Kofi Kingston
2. Kofi Kingston and Anybody Else
3. Chuck Palumbo and Tommy Dreamer (trust me, it was the worst thing ever)
4. John Cena and The Miz
5. TNA Impact
Best: ONE MAN BAND vs. SENTIENT SNAKE ARM For Feud Of The Year
I don’t mind wrestlers pointing out how stupid wrestling is when they’re doing it positively. If John Cena points out that Alberto Del Rio’s cars are rented, he’s pointing out how stupid wrestling is in a way you shouldn’t, sorta calling attention to the man behind the curtain and saying “hey look at how fake this is, everybody”. Comedy wrestling, especially between a man with a snake puppet hand and a guy who advertises himself as a one man band but appears to make no music, can point out some of the stupider tropes of wrestling — people just lying there while you jump on them, taunts, the logistics of a karate strike taking on the life of a snake when summoned by shouting — and make them work. We’re not laughing AT them, we’re laughing WITH them. That’s key.
I loved almost everything about this match. I loved Santino nonchalantly rolling away from the corners (to no crowd response, because they were too busy texting THEY FUKKED UP to the Botchamania guy), I loved the Cobra (I’m assuming not the ASS cobra) being attracted to Aksana at the expense of Santino but learning from its mistakes and putting its opponent away angrily before charging after her, and I especially, especially loved Heath Slater getting upset that Santino’s band taunts weren’t musically accurate. Heath Slater as Pitchfork: The Wrestler would be pretty outstanding. He’s already a ginger nobody likes, that’s like 80% of getting your record onto Pitchfork.
Slater’s in such a wonderful place right now. He gets to be an entertaining part of the show because he’s too good at his job to keep hidden, but he’s not selling a bunch of t-shirts so he doesn’t have to get thrust into romance angles and shit. He’s just a guy who is good at wrestling acting like an idiot with little-to-no toll taken on his body and making lots of money to do it. THE ONE MAN BAAAAAAND, BAY BAYYYYYY
My “joy collage” would just be a picture of Heath Slater playing air guitar.
Worst: LOL @ Aksana Doing Literally Anything
I love Aksana (dancing in a net backstage once gets you a lot of mileage) and think she’s a great second for Antonio Cesaro, but she should never under any circumstances be allowed to stand, speak, wrestle or do things by herself. All she had to do here was walk out to her porno sax and stand still. Somehow she couldn’t do THAT convincingly, and she reminded me a lot of a child at a school play who is ABOUT to remember his lines, but just can’t. There are a lot of pretty women in the world, guys, you could probably find one to remember “hold my arm up like a snake” before she’s been out there for 40 seconds.
Best: Rhodes Scholar
The most hopeful moment of the show came right in the middle, when Brodus Clay and Sin Cara teamed up, meaning two of MY favorite wrestlers, Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes, would be obligated to team up against them. I’d been trying to come up with a funny name for the Clay/Sin Cara team (“Fun Kara” is the best one I could come up with, although “Luchadaurus” has its charm), but as soon as I thought “Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes” my brain went RHODES SCHOLAR and put flashing lights on my fingers so I could type excitedly about it on Twitter. I hope they keep teaming up, because I love them, and I hope they end up finding the nickname and liking it, because I secretly want to be a part of this show so bad you guys.
One of the reasons I like them as a team is because there’s no dramatic reason to be together, which presents even less dramatic reasons for them to split. I loved The Miz and R-Truth together, but their team formed when both guys felt overlooked by WWE management and formed a Suicide Squad to throw themselves at Cena and Rocky. When that didn’t work, they imploded, and Miz Skull-crushingly finale’d Truth on the ramp so hard it made him think an invisible white kid who dominates his life was a good thing. In contrast, Sandow and Rhodes are fast friends because they can carry a conversation. I can’t imagine Sandow can find many pro wrestlers who think moves with Latin names are a cool idea (assuming Triple H won’t do a Daniel Desario ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ thing with him), so I don’t think he’d be quick to sever that relationship. Maybe they’d develop a mutual jealousy or something, but nothing so grand they have to turn on each other. Neither of these guys is up for a Hot New Babyface run any time soon.
I think I just gave myself a happiness seizure imagining babyface Damien Sandow yelling about Wittgenstein’s Mistress to a wrestling crowd and getting cheered for it.
Best: Sin Cara’s Epic Dancing
Oh, the other big highlight of this match was Sin Cara going Full 1960s Spider-Man with his post-match dance party with the Children Of Funkasaurus. Seriously, watch him:
And you wonder why the guy can’t trampoline over the ropes without hurting himself. Maybe the problem is that he’s trying to mimic the dance steps of the little Make-A-Wish motherf**ker to his left instead of keeping his eyes on the hot black girl with rhythm to spare and a Dr. Wagner ass to his right.
Best: Rhodes Scholar Backstage Fallout
I don’t link to these backstage things a lot, but this one features the best guys on the show, so please watch it as much as possible:
– Cody Rhodes namedropping Stephen A. Smith, who also probably thinks wrestling is real.
– Cody misidentifying the Funkadactyls derisively, which is amazing.
– Enough to make me think they’ll continue tagging Rhodes Scholar, and I won’t have to write three paragraphs in every Best and Worst from now until whenever about how they should’ve.
– Damien Sandow winning the NXT promo contest using the word “Perrier”.
– Sandow being so wonderfully lost in his own character I can’t imagine him ever breaking it. Not even when he turns face three years from now and uses Manuel de Sumaya to run down Alberto Del Rio and EVERYONE LOVES IT.
/starts the video over
Best: The Use Of Little Jimmy As A Psychological Weapon
I don’t know if you made it through Miz’s hacky portion of that Backstage Fallout video to get to Truth, but Little Jimmy: Toy Salesman turning into Little Jimmy: Secret Way To Win Matches is pretty great.
I wanted the Truth/Bryan match to go on for a long time because it seems fresh, but it makes sense that it didn’t. Truth very clearly pulled an AJ by getting into a “YES” chant with Little Jimmy, sending Daniel Bryan over the edge and making him scream at a guy in the crowd for no reason so Truth could just roll back in and get the win. It continues Bryan’s story … obviously one week of anger management won’t be enough, and if they follow through with it and stop being wrestling long enough to get therapy actually help someone on their show, it could be phenomenal. A character with a documented mean streak who snaps can be an explained character thing now, and not just Ken Shamrock being a weird psycho asshole in real life.
I also really love the idea of Truth going out for ice cream with Little Jimmy and just jamming ice cream cones into his scalp with a smile on his face while Kofi stands in the background shrugging, saying asinine shit like, “Ice cream? Come on, Truth!”
Worst: I Love You, Crowd Pop
Dear Triple H,
You did not earn this.
You never allow yourself to look vulnerable. Even in your “retirement” speech, you made sure to preface the vulnerable parts with I WENT IN AND KICKED BROCK LESNAR’S ASS I’M THE GAME I’M ALWAYS GREAT, backdoor bragging enough to render any of that teary-eyed stuff people like Edge get when they’re actually giving up something they love for real.
You didn’t want to be the guy standing in the ring just to get a nostalgia pop, so you’re out here getting a nostalgia pop.
You didn’t get the “oh god thank you and goodbye forever, The Game” thing you wanted from the SummerSlam crowd, a crowd I’m proud to say I was a part of, so you waited a couple of weeks and sandwiched a teary Shawn Michaels promo about how you’re great between it and your big moment, where you spoke to a crowd who was happy to see you and got the reaction you needed. Thank you Hunter. Tears.
You did not earn this.
Nobody believes you’re “retiring”. Every single person chanting Thank You Hunter is doing so with the thought in their head that Paul Heyman will show up next week and say something shitty, and you’ll get into a Survivor Series match with Brock. Or a Royal Rumble match with Brock. Or a WrestleMania match with Brock and probably the Undertaker, because you’re the kind of guy who’d stick your nose into money like that.
I’m not going to make the nose joke.
You are taking 20 minutes to perform Who’s More Grizzled in front of a bunch of people who’d give you the same pop and chant for showing up during commercial break to pedigree Heath Slater.
You are not leaving to try to pick up the pieces and find something else to do with your life. If you “retire from wrestling”, you’re still IN CHARGE OF WRESTLING. There’s no sacrifice being made. You don’t feel sorry for guys who win the lottery when they forget their Q’Doba card at lunch. You go back to Vince McMahon’s daughter FOR REAL and your extremely advantageous WWE job FOR REAL, both of which you made parts of your character, so even your character can’t pretend he should feel bad.
You did not earn this, and you are wasting our time. You are the pro wrestling segment version of those message board posts where somebody says “just wanted to say goodbye to everyone” and refreshes their browser to see who asks them to stay. You’re the girl who posts “ready to give up” on her Facebook wall without explanation so people will say “what’s the matter, hon?”, only we’re stuck reading about your f**king explanation every day.
You are bad and you should feel bad.
Best: Ah What The Hell, I’ve Been Saving This One
Best: I Missed This Crummy Main-Eventer Tag Team Match To Buy Plane Tickets For King Of Trios
I didn’t watch the Sheamus/Orton vs. Del Rio/Ziggler tag team match, because thrown-together main eventer tag team matches happen every week and if I catch 15 of the next 16 I’ll be able to piece it together. Here’s a quick recap of what I’m assuming happened: Dolph Ziggler sold a Brogue Kick like a champ, Randy Orton did that weird thing he does where he SEEMS like he’s putting together a match but he’s mostly standing around waiting for you to jump into his moves, Sheamus did something 99% of people don’t care about but I find infuriating and Del Rio had the happiest 8 minutes of his life watching the tape later because Jerry Lawler wasn’t around to call him names. Stuff happened, but nothing REALLY happened.
Close enough, right?
Best/Worst: Superstars (The Show, Not The People) On Raw
These kinds of matches should be happening ALL THE TIME on a 3-hour Raw. All the time. Instead of TOP MAIN EVENTER TEAMS WITH SIMILARLY ALIGNED GUY AGAINST TWO COWARDS, we should have the other 58 guys on the roster you pay to be pro wrestlers out there filling the time on Raw. Sometimes they could even wrestle each other! That’s part of what made popular wrestlers so special back in the day … getting to see Hogan wrestle seemed like a treat because you were so used to seeing f**king Don Kernodle or whoever, so much so that you barely noticed how much of a dodgy a-hole Hogan was.
While David Otunga vs. Zack Ryder in itself was pretty terrible, it’s the on-screen learning experience they need. These are “main roster” guys who barely ever do anything in the ring on television, and if you’ve got a backup roster of guys like Kassius Ohno and Dean Ambrose waiting to show up, these guys should be busting ass and earning their keep. If Zack Ryder’s really that bad, let Tyson Kidd wrestle his match and put him in charge of marketing your lesser-knowns on the Internet, the one thing he’s proven he’s great at. If David Otunga never gets any better in the ring, notice how much better he’s gotten OUTSIDE of it and utilize that. Put him in a managerial role for a guy like McGillicutty who can’t say five sentences without aborting the mental mission and repeating them in fragments but can go. If that doesn’t work, do something else. Do not just do the same thing all the time.
Best: Wait, Is … Is KANE Carrying This Show?
Speaking of not doing the same thing all the time, I cannot believe I’m typing about how KANE WAS ONE OF THE BEST PARTS OF THIS SHOW. It wasn’t even his epic retelling of his WWE history, either, which was one of the best pieces of writing I’d say they’ve ever done. Even watching him sit at the announcers table (because that’s where he’s supposed to be, because wrestling) with Michael Cole cowering over in the corner trying not to get chokeslammed to Hell was great. He gets into the ring and you expect him to just emasculate Ryder again, but he doesn’t AND CHOKESLAMS THE BAD GUY INSTEAD, because anger management is WORKING and they’re ACTUALLY HAVING THINGS THE WRESTLERS DO AFFECT HOW THEY THINK AND FEEL ABOUT WRESTLING.
Holy SHIT that’s fantastic.
Kane has super secretly been one of this year’s MsVP, in the ring and outside of it. He absolutely gets it, and he’s gone from one of my least favorite wrestlers of all time to one of the best reasons to watch the show. Maybe it’s Destiny’s unrepentant love of him getting through to me, but whatever.
Best: The Official, In-Name Return Of Mr. Small Package
If anything can make me chant YES! YES! YES! again without feeling bad about it, it’s this. God bless you, Stuff From ROH That Worked.
Worst: Thanks For That Pointless Announcement, GM Pantsuit
Cool announcement, bro. Any chance you could announce Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship again? That’d be rad.
I miss AJ.
rrrrrrrAAHH KAITLYN IS BETTER THAN YOU
Best: Blood, Incessant Forearms, Stupid John Cena And Everything That Could Make CM Punk Vs. Jerry Lawler Great (Except For The Crowd)
I’m not going to exaggerate because of how good I WANTED it to be. CM Punk versus Jerry Lawler in a steel cage on Raw was, honestly, boring as f**k. The opening was outstanding, with Punk giving Lawler the first shot, Lawler reluctantly taking it (but taking it with all he’s got) and Punk’s epic sell of it. The ending was great, too, with Punk getting busted open, throwing a Rock Bottom (that Michael Cole didn’t call, because he’s THE VOICE OF THE WWE AND CAN FOLLOW BASIC STORYLINES) and tapping Jerry Lawler out before tapping him out for real. I even liked Cena, who ran out but got so overcome by his RIGHTEOUS EMOTION that he forgot the cage doesn’t have a ceiling. He ran over to tell the timekeeper to raise the cage (because him yelling at the production truck wouldn’t make for a compelling in-arena gesture), which was smart, then stood there like goofy John Cena while nothing happened and Lawler died.
The match, though. Whew.
The guy chanting boring in the crowd is an asshole, but he’s right. You shouldn’t EVER chant boring at a wrestling match, but it was boring. Lawler’s still pretty good but For Real 60-something, and Punk’s good in the ring but not as good as he thinks. Compare and contrast this with Daniel Bryan vs. Mark Henry for an example of what I’m talking about. This one was closer to Show/Kofi Kingston.
I think it works, though, in the sense that WWE main events, especially the ones on television, aren’t about what happens in the match anymore. They’re about “moments”, about the feel of the match when it starts and the memory of how it ended. Those were all great. The story moved forward, and as dumb as it is for Cena to valiantly protect Jerry Lawler (a guy who’d sell him up the river in 5 seconds flat if he did something heelish and got booed for it), Punk got to look like skeevy, malicious Punk, Cena got to look like a baby-loving super hero and Jerry Lawler got to look like a shar pei that got run over by a car. Win, win, win.
Worst: All Right, After Night Of Champions Let’s NOT Have This Same Pay-Per-View Again
Via the fine folks at Punchsport Pagoda.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
So does Vintage Miz mean that he still lives in a loft in NY with 6 other people?
If Brodus and Sin Cara are gonna tag team, then Sin Cara needs to ride in Brodus’s singlet like a baby kangaroo.
I think “Harold” was the best work Maven ever did.
Game Over? I’m not going to insert any more quarters into this bullshit.
I bet Little Jimmy knows the difference between Green Bay and Milwaukee.
“The times when you have seen only one set of footprints, is when I carried you.” – Triple H
You’re not making Triple H better, you’re making Motorhead worse.
“I love me, Pop.”
Frightened Inmate Number Two
“I never wanted to be the guy that rolled into the ring because someone was willing to cut him a check.” But I thought HHH always wanted to be Ric Flair?
HHH GET OUT OF THE BROCTAGON!!!
Best: Live Reports From The Big Giant Head
Did you see that big giant head floating in the audience during the opening segment? The one that probably kept the Punk/Lawler opening promo from getting uploaded to WWE Fan Nation?
I did. He’s the awesome Dan Ryckert of Game Informer, and he was nice enough to send me a live report of the event. That’s on the next page. Click the link to follow him on Twitter, if you aren’t following him already. Jesus, I should really check these beforehand and make sure they’re terribly written and unfunny so I can stop being overshadowed by them.
Anyway, take it away, Dan.
Best: My big dumb head being on TV for most of the first segment
I’m not against attention whoring if it’s done with the sole purpose of looking like a dumbass, so (with the help of a Game Informer community member that works at a sign shop) I brought the stupidest sign I could think of: A giant cut-out of my big fat stupid face. Considering it was done several days before Raw, I spent some quality time with my new friend as I napped, got some work done, and fell into an existential crisis while watching my girlfriend dance around with it.
When it came time to go to the show, I assumed that the head ran the risk of being confiscated. To avoid this, I stapled it between two normal (but still kinda dicky) signs. I wasn’t about to fall for Justin Roberts’ “HEY EVERYONE HOLD UP YOUR SIGNS FOR OUR USA NETWORK CUT-IN AND WE TOTALLY WON’T TAKE THE ONES WE DON’T LIKE” announcement, and I knew there was no use in risking it during Superstars. Once the Raw opening package started, I unstapled the signs and took out my favorite creation. As you might have noticed, the head made it on the air plenty during the first segment.
They kept cutting to this one angle of Punk talking to Lawler, which was the perfect opportunity to stick my stupid face right in between their faces. I thoroughly amused myself by thrusting it into camera view every chance I got, and I was surprised to find my section more amused by it than annoyed. This first segment led directly to…
Worst: Sign Confiscapalooza 2012
I knew my sign(s) were in trouble during Superstars, as a guy in front of me got his “I’d rather be watchin’ the Divas” sign taken away (“You’re going to give that to me, or you’re leaving this arena. It’s that simple” – WWE Guy). Immediately after the Punk/Lawler segment, the same dude came up and took my face away without any explanation.
My noggin wasn’t the only thing to go, as they weren’t fond of a weird pink “Lesnar’s Lesbians” sign behind me. During Triple H’s entrance, there was a nice lingering shot of my “HBK was better than you” sign as Hunter climbed the stairs. I held it up for the first minute or two of his little speech, and WWE Guy came by again and took it away. Neither incident bothered me at all, as I expected it from the beginning. I’m not sure when WWE went through such a drastic change in sign policy, as Attitude Era crowds could pretty much get away with anything (including homophobic slurs but stopping short of F-bombs, basically).
Best: Heel Punk
If there was ever any doubt Punk is being booked as a full-blown heel, it’s extinguished after Raw. His biting remarks on Lawler and relentless beating during the main event was awesome, although the crowd still found it hard to do anything but cheer his heel persona.
Worst: Birthday girl
Sitting next to me was a short, fat girl with a Bluetooth headset on her ear, a tiara on her head, and a “ITZ MY BIRTHDAY GIVE ME A KISS” sign. For some damn reason, the security guys had no issue with her butting up to the barricade whenever someone was entering or exiting the ring (everyone else was quickly herded back). Her conversations with her friend were mind-numbing, mostly consisting of statements like “Oh my God, do you see those girls’ signs? They say ‘I (heart) Undertaker’ and ‘Marry Me Cena.’ They’re just like us!!!”. As could be expected, she freaked out and soiled her panties when Cena looked at her and blew a kiss during the bonus dark match at the end of the show.
Best: Cena totally making this kid’s entire life
Cena may have reinforced the birthday girl’s unjustified and inflated sense of self-worth in the bonus dark match, but he also did an amazing job of playing the superhero for a mentally disabled kid in the front row. This kid had several Cena shirts that he cycled through during the show, and was obviously a massive fan. Near the end of the bonus dark match, Cena was down on the mat as Big Show was preparing the WMD punch. As the kid in the front row desperately tried to warn Cena about the incoming attack, Cena looked directly at the kid and said something to the effect of “What? Behind me?”. He turned around, ducked Show’s punch, hit the AA, and won the match. Immediately after the three-count, he walked up to the kid, thanked him for the heads-up, gave him his wristband, and posed for a picture with him. I’ve never seen a wrestling fan look so elated. I don’t care how smarky or jaded you are, that’s just f**king heartwarming.
Worst: “Call Me” Guy
I knew I was in for a recurring treat as early as the Usos vs. Epico/Primo Superstars match, as a guy in the fourth row debuted his favorite line. Rosa Mendes was doing her whole “shriek in Spanish, gyrate, repeat” routine at ringside, and this dude kept screaming “ROSA CALL ME!” over and over. Despite no one laughing or acknowledging his routine, he continued to scream it and look remarkably pleased with himself each time. To my delight, he did the exact same thing for A.J. and Layla.