– If you guys don’t mind clicking the like button on this post or sharing it on Twitter, I’d be greatly appreciative. Comments are also appreciated, especially if they have something to do with anything in the column, and not just what you think of John Cena’s pink shirt.
– Subway is a terrible restaurant.
– I wasn’t able to watch Night Of Champions, so the existence of that report is pending. Not a lot happened, honestly, that wasn’t indirectly recapped by this column. I might just call it and prep myself for a massive Hell In A Cell report. Or I might skip that too and just start reviewing Kaiju Big Battel DVDs. Regardless, tons of writing in here, so enjoy.
The Best And Worst Of WWE Raw for September 17, 2012, is after the jump.
Worst: Just Start The Shows With Tag Team Main Event Graphics And Save Us 20 Minutes
I could attribute the fact that the opening 20 minutes of Raw sounded like a filibuster from Charlie Brown’s teacher to any number of things, including:
1. A magical weekend at Chikara pro wrestling’s King Of Trios tournament in Easton, PA, with a solid dozen old and new friends from the With Leather wrestling community. Night 3 of the event was legitimately one of the best wrestling shows I’ve ever seen, live or not, and coming back to Raw with the kind of enthusiasm you need to write six pages of Bests after tearing up twice (twice!) at an emotional, visceral live event is hard. Also, Raw will not end with me posing for a picture with a Japanese Colonel Sanders-themed wrestler. (Note: I’m writing a Best And Worst Of King Of Trios column for later in the week, so look out for that.)
2. Jet/travel lag. I flew into Philadelphia from Austin, Texas, then slept for like 40 minutes before driving two hours west-ish to Easton. The most substantial thing I had to eat between Thursday and Monday afternoon was a Ruby Tuesday salad bar.
3. Raw’s had a terrible tendency to go trough the motions on certain things, but taking way, way too long to go through them.
Number three is the big one, because “wrestling can be happy elsewhere” and “I got to go to wrestling shows” are terrible excuses. I don’t necessarily mind Paul Heyman wandering out to compliment a referee on his decision-making skills (I don’t mind Paul Heyman doing or saying anything) or the pay-per-view “controversy” recap and eventual “Teddy Long Operating AJ Like A Puppet” tag-teamery. I just hate that they have to take so freaking long to do it. Would any wrestling fan in the world have felt less satisfied if they’d just had Michael Cole go BREAKING NEWS ON A BLOCKBUSTER TAG TEAM MATCH ALBERTO DEL RIO TEAMS WITH CM PUNK TO FACE JOHN CENA AND SHEAMUS, IT’S LIKE THE PAY-PER-VIEW MATCHES BUT BOTH OF THEM?
You aren’t even robbed of “seeing” anybody. Everybody involved in this segment was involved elsewhere. It might’ve even made things better, if the folks who came to see Sheamus hadn’t seen Sheamus until LOBSTER HEAD kicked in for the main-event. You can sorta give us the benefit of the doubt on these things, WWE … if you have a one-segment match build and it ain’t that great (i.e. “it’s like the pay-per-view matches but both of them”), just have the match and let us figure it out.
If there was a single trope I could remove from pro wrestling forever, it would be “we have something scheduled for later or somewhere else, but let’s do it RIGHT HERE TONIGHT”.
Best: The Tag Team Division Might Actually Be Happening
I think most of us had probably written off “they’re rebuilding the tag division” as one of those “Ultimate Warrior died and was replaced” situations where it keeps getting reported as facts that only stupid people believe. But here we are with Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara going up against Epico and Primo to open the show, Titus O’Neil and Darren Young getting involved after the bell AND a tag title run featuring two persons of legitimate import in a story (good or bad). And they’re defending against the former champions, who didn’t just start hitting each other when they lost the belts. Teams are forming and staying together, and matches are happening. More importantly, they’re SAYING the tag team division is getting its shit together, which in WWE terms in a thousand times more important than wrestling or wrestlers.
And yeah, maybe this is all just a smokescreen to get Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio involved with each other enough to split them apart and run them at WrestleMania for a dumb “most masks” World Record or whatever, but it’s something, and it’s substantial. Sin Cara gets to look great every week, allowing tag matches to hide his WWE weaknesses and looking like the most fit and athletic dude ever next to Viscera-pants Rey Mysterio in his mysterious, sleeveless Spanx.
Best: The Prime Time Players Are Srs Bznss
Hey Darren … “nobody gonna take any wang from us”? You mean like KOBE BRYAN IN A COLORADO HOTEL ROOM?
If you haven’t been enjoying the Prime Time Players as dancing football enthusiasts, perhaps you’ll enjoy them as HYPER-VIOLENT TERRY CREWS and his weird friend Darren. I don’t love the change in attitude, mostly because the announcers going THIS IS A CHANGE IN ATTITUDE makes me think we’ll never see Titus calling personal fouls again, but I like to see them sticking around and being a thing. Pretty hilarious that the worst guy from NXT season 1 and the worst guy from NXT season 2 teamed up and made something out of themselves. Hey, Kaval and Johnny Curtis aren’t on TV anymore, and Kaitlyn was only around on Raw as an accident. All they’ve got to do is take out Wade Barrett and they’re better than every winner.
Best: JBL Is The F**king Best
Jerry Lawler’s heart attack gave us two really great things: a new era of announce teams where they all get along and want the best for each other instead of challenging one another to barbecue foot eating matches or whatever, and JBL returning to “keep the seat warm”. I hope he keeps the seat warm forever, because f**k Jerry Lawler, Bradshaw is the shit.
Last night’s commentary team (when they weren’t briefly arguing about Twitter) was focused on talking about the matches, making the competitors seem important, getting over storylines and, most importantly, not saying CHIMMINNYCHONGA at the Mexican wrestlers until I had to change the channel. At one point during the Ziggler/Santino match I realized JBL had gotten over both wrestlers as legitimate athletes in like 30 seconds. Have they ever put as much emphasis on the “Santino is a goof, but he’s a shoot judo champion” thing before? It was great.
Stay forever, JBL, and keep Jim Ross with you. Only Southern people should be allowed to speak into a microphone during wrestling matches.
Worst: Good Luck On Mars, Beth Phoenix
I’m giving the match a Worst because it was two minutes of awful wrestling. There are, however, a couple of Bests.
– Eve remembering the last however many years of watching Beth Phoenix wrestle and utilizing a roll-up as soon as possible for an easy victory. Beth Phoenix is for real a turtle and cannot move if she’s slowly rolled backwards onto her back. Watch when she loses, she doesn’t even kick out all angry after three and jump to her feet, she just languishes there on the mat. SOMEBODY GO ROLL HER BACK OVER.
– Layla + real people clothes = Jesus
I also liked that WWE is so ashamed of Kaitlyn “accidentally” winning a Divas #1 Contenders Battle Royal that they not only had her get Tonya’d Harding at the pay-per-view, they had the announcers on Raw spend the entire Divas match explaining how nothing shady happened, and Kaitlyn just got injured by a masked person backstage because it’s wrestling and that shit just happens.
Worst: Whoever Had The Temerity To Put Heath Slater In A Match Against Brodus Clay Is An Ignoramus
Heath Slater is not Curt Hawkins, no matter how much they look alike, and should not be used as such.
I hate giving Worsts to Heath Slater matches. In theory this could’ve been good, but Brodus has kinda plateaued in the ring, and even the One Man Band (Baybay) can’t sell spectacularly when his opponent’s moveset is “stand still” and “move forward slightly”. The match had its high points (Heath’s attempt at explaining how he’s the One Man Band at the beginning of the match, humping up and down like he was trying to churn butter from Clay’s neck during a front facelock and crawling across the ring on his knees with his hand over his face to sell a forearm), but no, it was literally nothing.
Also, let me try this out:
English: “I do not want to see children dance with Brodus Clay.”
Spanish: “No quiero ver a los niños bailar con Brodus Clay.”
French: “Je ne veux pas voir les enfants danse avec Brodus Clay.”
Swedish: “Jag vill inte se barn dance with Brodus Clay.”
German: “Ich will nicht zu sehen, Kinder Tanz mit das Fettschweinmann.”
Now if I could figure out how to translate it to Tout. The only sentence I know in Tout is “ah lack wartchin’ Raw” followed by six consecutive crotch-chops.
I don’t say this a lot, but the guy who chanted “boring” during Miz TV was on the right track.
I can’t think of a more straight-up boring four minutes in recent memory. Triple H doing that thing where he closes his eyes and lowers his head between sentences to remember his lines (“this business”) and/or absorb real or imagined crowd response is more entertaining than Miz TV. It wasn’t necessarily BAD, but man, my brain at that moment in time was not prepared to handle it. Everything before the ending was as bad as the ending was good. Maybe I couldn’t recover from him failing to mention Carlito’s Cabana, I dunno.
Hopefully this will be the last-ever edition of Miz TV, and next week will start with Miz walking out in a suit with a microphone and Ryback rushing out to immediately crush his body with the big light-up M. Too bad the live mic that ended up in the crowd fell into the hands of a troglodyte and not somebody who could’ve spat out PUSH DAMIEN SANDOW or something before it was whisked away. GAULDBARG, GAULDBARG, GAULDBARG~! At least shout your blogspot URL, dude.
Best: F**K YO COUCH
I’m not kidding, I would pay good money for a ‘Storage Wars’-type show where Vince McMahon bids astronomical amounts for storage units at auction, then just opens it up and tells Ryback to throw everything he can find inside. Just a show about him throwing couches and partially-built jet-skis and old arcade cabinets and shit.
We wanted Ryback to move on to something other than squashing the Stans Stansky of the world, and here it is. Whether it’ll lead to an ersatz Goldberg vs. Raven United States Championship Match or not, it’s enough to make me tune in next week and see where it goes. Miz’s Backstage Fallout interview should be two sentences: “I am not prepared for this” and “has anybody seen Alex Riley?”, only to find that RYBACK has seen Alex Riley and that ALEX RILEY HAS BEEN EATEN.
Best: You Know, Honestly, If The Sock Gives His Arm Magical Striking Power He Shouldn’t Be Able To Use It In Matches, It’s No Better Than A Loaded Tennis Racket Or Whatever
I really dug this match, even though the WWE Fan Nation video starts with that weird botch/Lex Luger forearm attack Ziggler did and just rolled with. For some reason (as you might’ve picked up) I’m fascinated by Santino Marella and extremely into any match featuring him getting beaten up. It just feels right and makes sense to me. Ziggler screwing around with him before Zig-Zagging him twice was glorious, as was the continuation of Santino’s story about being too distracted by prop-hand shenanigans to win a wrestling match. You established that the Cobra was just a puppet on your arm, bro, there was no puppet for like the first two years you did it, just do the Cobra and win without the puppet.
The “Let’s Go Ziggler” chants were encouraging, although they’re starting to feel more like what a WWE audience thinks they’re supposed to say when Ziggler’s wrestling, rather than an actual cheer for Ziggler. Regardless, everyone looked effective here — Ziggler got to actually show off in a match without looking like it was gonna make him lose, Vickie got to be a useful hand at ringside by keeping the snake puppet away from Santino, and Santino got to make 12,000 people go AHHH HE’S GONNA DO THE HAND JIVE WE PAID TO SEE before getting super disappointed. Win, win, win.
I feel like Santino needs to get back into a tag team and get shuffled back into the growing tag division. Put him with Brodus again, that was fun for a minute. Tag him up with Big Zeke and call them “E-snake-ial”. Put him with Sgt. Slaughter and have them feud within the team because of how much Sarge hates Cobra. Who cares? Everything’s a good idea.
Worst: Bring Me Jared From Subway
Usually when Subway shows up on Raw, it’s great. Remember Santino stealing JELLY STUPID LOLLER’s “delicious Subway sub”? Remember CM Punk telling Luke Gallows and Serena to bring him “Jared From Subway”?
Those were both good, but this one (save for the Ryback ending… because Ryback’s job is to show up at the end of terrible skits and threaten people until it gets good) was terrible. It presented too many questions. Was Truth manipulating the politeness of a stranger by making Jared assume he was out of his mind just to get two subs instead of one? Why were those subs hanging out of their wrappings? I worked at a Subway, we don’t just wrap the ass end of it and hand it to you. If Subway doesn’t think an off-white paper tube looks appetizing, why wrap it like that in the first place? How is Jared from Subway still a fitness and health spokesman when his boobs are bigger than AJ’s? How did Kofi not know Truth was talking about Subway’s birthday when he walked into the Subway sandwiches room and it was full of balloons? WHO THINKS WE’RE STUPID ENOUGH TO BELIEVE THAT DAMIEN SANDOW WOULD EVER EAT AT A SUBWAY. It should’ve just been Jared going “hey Truth and Kofi, it’s Subway’s birthday! Here, eat this loaf of garbage”.
I’m also really upset that Daniel Bryan dropped his veganism a week before the Subway promo, so he couldn’t storm in and start yelling about how Subway advertises “fresh food” but their only options are salted meat-approximations and the “veggie delight”, which is f**king high school cafeteria salad good at best. These guys are so ignorant to how vegetables work they treat an avocado like f**king Ripley had just stumbled out of the jungle with it in a butterfly net and dropped it off at Subway HQ. I’m also sad that Kane didn’t show up and set Jared on fire.
Fun fact: I am 99% sure that Destiny once dated Jared from Subway. He looked exactly like that and ate Subway every day.