The Best And Worst Of WWE Raw 1/27/14: Dananiel Bryanan Clap Clap Dananiel Bryanan

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And now, BATISTA. Sorry, the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for January 27, 2014.

Best: (Controlled, Intentional) Damage Control

So, I guess I made a lot of people mad on the final page of my Best and Worst of Royal Rumble report when I suggested that it was stupid and unfair to fantasy book something in your head and then get pissed and demandy when it doesn’t happen. It’s probably due to my failings as a writer — you’re reading this on a comedy spots blog, after all, not in a literary journal — so I want to clarify my point.

Cheering for Daniel Bryan is great. You should do that. He’s awesome and deserves it. You should get mad when he loses, because getting mad when your favorites lose is a real thing. You should cheer for him at the expense of others if you’d like, because f*ck it, he’s your favorite and you want to see him succeed, God dammit. I was a part of that WrestleMania crowd that did “yes” chants throughout Randy Orton vs. Kane. I know how it feels. Two years later it still feels like I was part of something important. I feel you. I also think it’s important though that while you do this, you realize you’re part of an intentional, controlled WWE game, because wrestling is not real and its mission statement is MAKE PEOPLE WHO LIKE THIS THINK THAT WHATEVER’S HAPPENING IS REAL. It’s some Truman Show shit sometimes, but that’s the way of the world.

That said, Daniel Bryan’s reaction last night was AWESOME, even if Cleveland is bad at chanting and turned “DAN-IEL BRY-AN” into “DAN-YA CLAP CLAP YULL BRYAN CLAP DAN CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAP-IEL BRY-AND.” Every time Bryan fails or has an opportunity yanked out from under him, it makes him a bigger star. TMZ’s reporting “Daniel Bryan blames WWE for not being in the Royal Rumble” as NEWS, as actual celebrity gossip, when the body of the post is Bryan saying “the Authority doesn’t want me in the match.” Still, people online are calling last night’s Bryan segments and inclusion in the Elimination Chamber “damage control,” suggesting that WWE had no plans to do ANYTHING with Bryan (the guy who has taken up an hour of every TV episode besides the ones he was concussed for for the last year) until WE THE FANS went so crazy and changed the trajectory.


The truth is that Bryan has been so consistently great at his job and has created a legit pro wrestling phenomenon and his job is safe. Unless something ridiculous happens, Bryan gets to be a regular player on WWE television for the rest of his life if he wants, dropkicking peoples’ brains out and selling shirts with goats on them and being as sarcastic as he wants to be. It’s worked. And when I say “it’s worked” I mean both “Bryan’s hard work paid off and now he gets to be a rich celebrity doing the thing he loves” and “nothing you see on television is real.”

You don’t need a speech from me about how to properly enjoy the shows, so enjoy them however you want. Thought and awareness are never your enemies, though, and thinking way too constructively about fake fighting for babies is basically the most fun and wonderful thing in the world. Let’s love this delightful motherf*cker and realize that we’re all “off base” with our thoughts, because shit, they don’t even come up with the base until two hours before air.

Best: Triple H Really Is Spectacular When He Isn’t Getting Me Ready To Suck It

I’ve mentioned it before, but when Triple H commits to being a bad guy — a true, nasty villain — he’s better at it than anybody in wrestling. He’s real-life evil, or at least he’s cultivated this off-screen image as a backstage manipulator and turned “f*cking the boss’s daughter and riding everybody’s coattails” to this absurd, perfect position where he’s the toughest, smartest and most decorated performer in the company’s history and doesn’t deserve ANY of it. That’s a perfect recipe for the most despicable man in the world to people who know and appreciate struggle.

That’s why I get so bent out of shape when he puts on DX clothes and tells me to get ready to suck it. It’s the same thing the Outlaws are doing. They are GREAT at their jobs, but they seem like they’re trying to be great at two jobs at once … like they’re afraid to let go of the crowd love they’ve been given and truly earn boos and hatred. It’s always gotta be hatred with a side of wink-wink-you-love-me. You can’t have tweener anti-heroes be the bosses. That disqualifies everything about being “anti” AND “hero.” NPCs have to be easily-defined catalysts for the player characters desperately trying to move forward and level up around them.

Anyway, smarmy shithead Triple H (like the one we saw in last night’s Raw opening) is the best thing, and nothing upsets me quite as much as when a wrestler becomes the Best Thing and then visibly chooses not to continue being it.

Best: Seth Rollins, Entering The Arena Via Slip-N-Slide


Best: Emphatic Cesaro Endings

One of my favorite things in wrestling EVER is when something unexpected goes a wrestler’s way and he forgoes the dramatic back-and-forth in favor of saying I’M A SHARK, SUCK MY DICK and obliterating his opponent for the win. It never happens enough. If it does, it’s usually in an ROH match after they’ve gone 15 minutes past the finish and need to wrap up their kickouts with something impactful.

Last week’s Antonio Cesaro vs. CJ Parker match on NXT was a glorious example of this. If you missed it, they traded offense for a bit and Parker decided to go for an airplane spin. He forgot, of course, that Cesaro is the company’s BEST SPINNER and doesn’t get dizzy, so instead of selling it and collapsing to the ground Cesaro just stood tall, cracked his neck and DESTROYED Parker. It was great times a hundred.

Last night’s Real Americans/Car Stereo match was just like that. Mysterio and Sin Cara get a ton of offense on Cesaro, but he’s able to roll out of the way of Sin Cara’s swanton and get back up to his feet. Cara ducks a clothesline and springboards off the second rope and gets SERVED LUNCH in the form of a European uppercut TO THE SOUL. Instead of playing it up and dragging it out, Cesaro cracks his neck and Neutralizes Sin Cara for the emphatic, decisive win. Sometimes you just lose the shit out of a wrestling match, you know? And like William Regal once said, there’s no better way to go out than by being beaten by the ultimate competitor. Loved it.

Best: The March Toward The Babyface Real Americans Continues

I also really loved the Real Americans getting character development, which is right behind “now they’re carrying hateful signs” on my list of things I have recently loved about the Real Americans. In the Royal Rumble report I wrote about how I wanted to see them as a face tag team sorta “dealing with” heel manager Zeb, like you might deal with a racist relative you’re embarrassed by but still technically love during holidays. Have Zeb spout his bullshit and have Cesaro and Swagger just stand in the background snickering and facepalming.

On Raw, Colter just straight up shouted at them on the outside and slapped Swagger in the face to motivate him. It worked, and Swagger went into this cool overdrive for a little bit. I want to see that continue, with Zeb realizing that physicality works and going farther and farther with it until he goes too far and I don’t know, strikes Cesaro with his bullwhip or whatever and gets giantly-swung to death for his transgressions. How great would that be?

Eventually people aren’t going to be able to boo them, and “We The People” will start being chanted sincerely instead of facetiously. Remember when The Rock would talk about the “millions and millions” of fans and call himself “The Great One” because people actually hated him and he had no fans?

Best: I’m Afraid I’ve Got Some Bad News

I’m not sure how Bad News Barrett keeps getting better every week, but now he’s banging a gavel for like half a minute before saying anything and saying things to make the crowd cheer just so he can bang a gavel over them. He’s throwing shade at Cleveland and he’s totally right and no matter how much I love Cleveland, the love of Bad News Barrett usurps it. I’m gonna spend the next month asking people if we can have some decorum.

I really hope they somehow keep this going and becoming bigger and more relevant until next year’s Kofi Kingston Royal Rumble hope spot involves him scaling, knocking Barrett down/leaping from the top of this colossal, towering scissor-lift lectern.

Worst: Fandango Is Now Exclusively Wrestling In A Vacuum

I have no idea what’s happening with Fandango. I can never get a firm handle on whether they like him or they don’t. They gave him a 40-second squash over Xavier Woods last week and followed it up with him losing clean to R-Truth in about a minute. It seemed like a minute, JBL walking into a conversation about autistic kids when he’s trying to be a heel caused my brain to go into a time warp. It might’ve been 90 minutes long.

Anyway, unless the build is to emphasize the difference in talent between R-Truth and Xavier Woods, I don’t see a point to it. It’s just filler. Which is a shame, because everybody involved could be doing something better with their time, like when Fandango spun Summer Rae away into INFINITE SPIN during his Rumble entrance and got into a beef with El Torito. Forget the “where’s Punk and Kane?” and “where’s Alexander Rusev?” questions, I’m asking “where’s El Torito” with a follow-up of “why isn’t El Torito attacking the mean dancing man again?”

Worst: Let’s Ask The WWE Universe What They Think About R-Truth Vs. Fandango

Thanks, everybody. See you next week!

Worst: Hobotista

Remember that joke about how Batista looks like he shops at the clothing stores in Grand Theft Auto? Well, he went from Franklin Clinton to Niko Bellic this week. I’ll be honest with you, I would’ve been a lot happier with his performance in the Rumble if he’d ran in throwing people around and screaming I’M NOT LEAVING WITHOUT MY COUSIN.

Next week Batista should come out wearing JNCOs and a backwards baseball cap.

Best: Brock Lesnar Makes Batista Look Like A Punk-Ass By Standing In The Ring With Him

My good friend/peer/the homie David D. pointed this out last night on Twitter, I don’t think I’ve ever seen something truer said in 140 characters or less.

Dave Batista is a product. He’s a muscular bouncer who found his way into pro wrestling and has more or less been handed everything he’s ever wanted (including an alter boy gimmick) by being who he is and looking how he looks. He’s got muscles on top of muscles but he’s not really strong. Watch him struggle to lift guys for powerbombs while Cena throws around 500-pound guys like they were nothing. He doesn’t really have any combat skills. Remember when Booker T beat him up? He’s an actor, playing a character and ACTING tough.

On the other hand, you’ve got Brock Lesnar. Brock Lesnar trains by uprooting trees, carrying them on his shoulders and running around. His MMA career wasn’t long or particularly storied, but he’s a former UFC Heavyweight Champion and NCAA wrestling champion. He also seems legitimately violent and unhinged, the bully confused by his own stupidity who wants to take it out on anything and everything that moves. Let me put it to you this way:

^ This.

Best: Miz In A Cleveland Browns Jersey Is So Perfect

So here’s my brief history with Cleveland.

I grew up in southern Virginia, the son of a radio DJ. Part of the problem with working in radio is that you get hired and fired and move around a lot and the big city radio jobs are almost always taken, so you migrate around to these little towns with nothing in them. I lived in Kernersville, NC, a city called “Java” that was just my house and a general store, lowest-possible-low-income housing in Danville, and so on. When I got a little older I ended up going to college nearby, and although I kept moving around, I only moved to out-of-the-way places without pro sports teams. Naples, Florida, for example. Parkersburg, West Virginia. Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where the Crimson Tide decals in the intersections and grocery store windows kinda make you never want to watch sports again.

Eventually I found my way to Cleveland and fell in love. It was the first time I lived in a city with a real sports team … uh, assuming you could call Cleveland’s teams “real sports teams.” I fell in love with the Indians, specifically, and though I ended up relocating to Texas by way of Maryland four years later (I know, I’m the worst), the time I spent and relationships I formed in Cleveland mean a lot to me, the Lebanese food was the best and I carry the Mistake By The Lake with me wherever I go.

That said, just as I have the ability to realize that pro wrestling is an ignorant show for ADD-riddled toddlers and their hateful parents but still love it with my entire heart and view it as a legitimate art form, I claim Cleveland enough to hold it in my heart and simultaneously deride it for being the worst place in the world. Okay, it’s not as bad as Detroit, but it’s on the list. Dolph Ziggler showing up in a Cleveland Cavaliers jersey with a number 69 on it because SEX was almost perfect, but it was topped by the sight of The Miz wearing a Cleveland Browns jersey. I can’t even touch that. The only way it would’ve been better is if Miz’s dad had been the one wearing the jersey.

The match was enjoyable enough, but LOL at Miz standing up at the end and just waiting for the Zig Zag to happen. Motherf*cker was looking over his shoulder and still didn’t see it coming. What were you trying to do, Miz, a Pele kick?

Anyway, Dolph is from Cleveland and Miz is from Parma, so Dolph already won the Battle of Cleveland. I just wish Alex Riley had wandered out in a Melt shirt.

Supplemental Worst goes to Jerry Lawler for hearing “Cleveland sucks” when the crowd was chanting about the Steelers. You’re worse at adopted hometowns than me, Jerry.

Best/Worst: The Battle Of Cleveland Backstage Fallout Is An Emotional Roller Coaster

Good: Backstage Fallout opening with Dolph Ziggler quickly mentioning how he’s from Hollywood, Florida, but grew up in Cleveland, covering those little annoying historical retcons and avoiding any “hey Kofi, what happened to your accent” moments.

Bad: Miz’s hair, and also Miz saying him losing to Ziggler was worse than LeBron taking his talents to South Beach when he REALLY should’ve wrestled in a Heat jersey in the first place. Don’t front, Miz, you live in Los Angeles with your beautiful French Playmate.



Good: The conversation suddenly becoming about Mr. Hero and Miz’s dad, which is totally where Zack Ryder wants to party. EAT, NOT BOOKED FOR TELEVISION, GO ON THE INTERNET, REPEAT.

Best: Ziggler: “If he shows us how to do a Roman Burger, I’m gonna show you how to do that figure four.” WINNER.

Best Ever: This tweet:


Worst: The Divas Part Of Backstage Fallout

Bad: Nikki Bella being proud of her ring gear designing skills when she totally ordered that shit from Yandy.

Best: Put The Titles On The Usos As Soon As Possible

I spent the Usos vs. McGillibuddies tag match thinking about two things:

1. How 13ish months ago Ryback was strong and tough enough to take on the Shield by himself in a TLC match, and
2. How the Outlaws need to hurry up and put the tag titles on the Usos so we can validate their hard work and transitions the belts into the actual tag team division, instead of putting them on already-popular teams so they have cool photo props

Don’t get me wrong, I love Team Hell No and The Shield and the Rhodes Brothers, but none of those seven guys needs the tag team championships. You can put Goldust and Cody Rhodes into stories with anybody. Daniel Bryan can challenge for anything. The Shield members all have impossible upsides. What’re Jimmy and Jey Uso gonna do if they aren’t a top tag team? What are teams like Rybaxel or 3MB or Los Matadores or whoever gonna do if they have absolutely no hope of being (or at least trying to be) at the top of their division? You can buy Los Matadores pinning a team like The Usos, right? Now imagine them trying to pin Daniel Bryan and Kane.

Let’s move the tag titles around a little and make them a thing of importance again. The division will follow.

Worst: Finally, A Fresh Match-Up


On Raw, Alberto Del Rio got to face opponent #3, aka “non-Mexican opponent,” Kofi Kingston. Honestly I thought the match was kinda fun. Del Rio aggressively responding to Kofi’s kinda-offense with stomps and angry faces is always delightful, and Kofi’s GOTTA break through these start-stops at some point, so why not now, when he’s pinned the champion and done well in the Royal Rumble in the same month? He also, uh, held Randy Orton’s leg so John Cena could cause him to lose a match by disqualification, but whatever, he’s supposed to be athletic, not smart.

Del Rio’s about to be a Lunchable for Batista, too, so everything they can do to look viable and important is crucial right now. Bryan wouldn’t have gotten over like he did if he hadn’t sorta forced excitement and enthusiasm into whatever he was doing, so if Kofi could just … I don’t know, look like he’s in a realish fight and sorta seems like he gives a shit beyond setting up for his slow-to-set-up moves, it’d probably help him a lot. When he did the Rumble jump and spun back into the ring, he had a very noticeable fire to him. He was excited that he’d made the jump and was ready to kick ass and accomplish anything. It didn’t go anywhere, mind you, but it COULD.

Worst: The Kick That Won Del Rio A Championship Maggle

Del Rio’s superkick to a guy on their knees needs a name. JBL’s saying “THE KICK THAT WON DEL RIO A CHAMPIONSHIP” before the foot’s even off the face, and it’s becoming the new “here’s the Cubito Aequet, the elbow of DISDAIN.” That soundbite that sounds like it’s straight from a video game that you’re gonna have to listen to every single time you do the move. Any time a wrestler regularly does a move the announce team should know what it’s called, if only to avoid situations like that. You don’t have to be Nitro-era Mike Tenay or any-era Mike Quackenbush about it with the technical terms and analysis, just call it THE BRUTALIZER or whatever so you can reference it beyond “what a move.” That seems helpful, and not like a thing that would make you nerds.

I guess I should be thankful they haven’t started calling it the Spic Kick.

Worst: The Outlaws Have The Same Problem As Triple H And If They’re Doing It On Purpose, We Aren’t Free-Willed Enough To Play Along

The New Age Outlaws are bad guys. They’re saying they aren’t here because they know Triple H, but they ARE. I know it, you know it, they know it. The way they boastfully accepted the challenge of Los Bros Rhodes only to get upset and confused when they realized what they’d done and gotten called on it was GREAT, as was their time-out retreats to fan each other with JBL’s hat. They’ve got it in them to be great, great heels, something the tag team division desperately needs, but they keep prefacing it with so much pandery fan-service I can’t get on board.

Think of it this way … what THEY’RE doing is great. It’s character consistency. They were loudmouth jerks with one specific speech they liked to do when they were bad guys, and when they became fan favorites, the crowd just started singing along. Road Dogg’s always been about style over substance, and Billy Gunn’s spent more time coming up with color combinations for his gear than he has learning how to wrestle for five minutes without blowing up. They’re scumbag cronies who found a niche that worked for them and beat it to death. That’s great. That works, good or bad.

The problem is that on paper, we should be booing them for it right now. They’re Triple H’s henchmen. They turned on CM Punk when he needed them and left him to get beaten up by The Shield. They took the tag titles away from the Rhodes Brothers, who are as babyface right now as you can get. They’re filling their matches with tons of subtle and overt heel mannerisms and statements. They’re BAD GUYS. But WWE fans love to do call-and-response so much they’ll just sing along anyway, and it makes them happy, which translates into face heat. It’s why the Outlaws are “over” instead of being hated.

If fans could detach from the joy of call-and-response and differentiate when they should and shouldn’t be doing it, we’d be fine. Yell “come get some!” when John Cena asks if you want some. YES along with Daniel Bryan. When the Outlaws start their speech, boo them for it, because they’re disingenuous. When Triple H goes into ARE YOU READY, NO, I SAID ARE YOU READY mode, boo him, because you’ve JUST watched him treat everybody you like like garbage. Be aware of the characters and what’s happening. Know WHOSE ass it is and WHY it’s farting. That would make the entire WWE experience run like magical clockwork, and we’d get clear motivations and forward progress and everything else you might not know you want, but desperately need.

Worst: Did Goldust Forget His Gloves?

hey man where are your gloves

You can’t barehand these guys, their skin is like a basketball’s. Go put your pink gloves back on, Goldie, don’t you know anything about sports superstition?

Best: Option C

The Authority doesn’t answer Brock Lesnar’s request for a match against Orton or a #1 Contender match against Batista (both of which would’ve been enjoyable, because Brock needs to eat folks I don’t like #6), so he responds by interrupting the tag title match and attacking the Rhodes Boys to death with a chair. It’s interesting that he doesn’t attack the Outlaws, but I guess they were smart enough to hit the bricks when The Pain starting Here Coming.

I don’t like Lesnar ending guys I love, but I like the experience of violent Brock lashing out when he doesn’t get his way, so I’m giving it a Best. It makes sense, doesn’t it? You exist in this world where might makes right and steel chairs (made of STEEL) are commonplace weapons that don’t get you sent to jail for using them. You can swing a chair hard enough to crack a fault line and drown Donald Trump or whatever, why not put that all together and viciously maul everything that makes you sad or unhappy?

Next week Heyman should take Lesnar to a library to teach him how to read, and Lesnar should respond by flipping a table and hitting a bookcase with a plastic chair until it collapses. I want real life situations like this. I want it to be a WWE Network show. And yes, I’m assuming Brock doesn’t know how to read.

Worst: Aksana’s Starrcade 98, Or
Worst: Naomi Needs To Cool It With The Asshole-Based Offense


1. I think even the Divas are getting tired of HUNDRED ON HUNDRED Divas tag matches. Most of them don’t even get to wrestle, they just stand on the apron. That’s how you go five years in a wrestling promotion without getting better. There is no training like ring time. At least nobody dressed in Santa panties and did a convoluted ring-around-the-rosie spot this time.

2. I am extremely unhappy that Aksana did not take over the match at any point and start Rybacking the cast of ‘Total Divas,’ which is my default angry opinion for Divas matches going forward.

3. I’m a fan of Naomi and think she’s a talented athlete and performer, but she has got to cool it with the ass-based offense. Sometimes it’s endearing, like when Mojo Rawley is an unstoppable Hype Train and just runs into you repeatedly with his entire body. Sometimes it makes sense, like when you’re a fat guy and you sit on people. Naomi is just a woman with a nice ass. She doesn’t need to use it as weapons A, B and C-through-Z. If she’s gonna keep the “Rear View” as a finish and we’re meant to accept that a jumping butthole to the face will CRITICAL YOU and cause you to be pinned after one move, can we at least get rid of her “top of the head” stink face? The Stink Crown, I guess? The Crown Of Shit? WAIT CAN GIVE CAMERON AN ELECTRIC CHAIR FINISH AND CALL IT THE “LIAR’S CHAIR?”

4. Summer Rae is joining the cast of Total Divas next season, so I hope that doesn’t mean a face turn for her. I just hope 45 minutes of every episode are Summer having awesome matches on NXT and making suck it gestures at Aksana.

5. Yes, that would be immediately followed by Aksana Rybacking Summer Rae.

Best: I’m Just Sad Earthquake Isn’t Alive To Induct Jake’s Lifeless Bag Of Meat Into The Animal Wing

I’m happy that Jake’s gotten his life together and can receive an honor like this in the right way, where the worst thing he’s gonna do is maybe call the Warrior an asshole and not pull out his dick in the ring or use a snake as an ersatz cock. I want to see Paul Bearer get in this year, and because I assume they’re gonna save Macho as the “main guy” for whatever fantastical future year they decide to induct him, I’ll keep my Hall of Fame requests to “The British Bulldogs” and “begging for Owen.”

Jake should be inducted by his daughter, and her entire intro speech should be a dramatic reading of “F*ck You Daddy.”

Best: A Match Full Of Wonderful, Wonderful Selling

This week’s main event was a trios match where the winning team qualified for inclusion in the Elimination Chamber. The result was pretty obvious since one team was three Important Heavyweight Championship Contending Superstars and the other was a three-man tag team, but man, I wish the Shield would’ve won. How great would they have been in an Elimination Chamber match? Just hang out and don’t punch each other until you’ve used the DAMNED NUMBERS GAME to eliminate everybody else, and then pick your winner. Or fight for it then, whatever.

Anyway, the match itself was long and great, and featured spectacular moments of selling, such as Seth Rollins going to Hell for the benefit of a missile dropkick:

Dean Ambrose going “light as a feather, stiff as a board” to sell a Brogue Kick:

… and John Cena selling a spear by jumping as high as he can, taking it shoulder-first in the balls and landing in a sitting position.

Okay, some were better than others.

Best: The Continuing Wyatts vs. Shield Blood Feud

Give me 40 minutes of The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family at Elimination Chamber and I’ll say five happy things about every Miz match for the rest of the year. Pinkie swear. 40 MINUTES.

Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night

beef supreme

If we get 24 more wrestlers we can have a do over…


Look at John Cena showing up to work on time.

Proud of that guy


Dialing (619) is the perfect analogy for Rey Mysterio….You’re still 7 digits short of having a conversation.


Wait?! Is Xavier Woods Lil’ Jimmy in physical form. That reveal would make up for EVERYTHING.


If you had to deal with R-Truth on a weekly basis you’d need to learn how to handle autistic kids too




You mean he’s between a Brock and a hard place

Harry Longabaugh

I’m not sure whether Miz or Ziggler should have worn Brandon Weedon’s jersey: one was pushed as a starter before he was ready and the other was derailed by a concussion.


Some day, we will sit around the fire and Alex Riley will regale us with the tale of The Battle of Cleveland.


It’d be messed up if the Randy Savage action figure was just a skeleton wearing sunglasses and a neon cowboy hat.

Thanks, everybody. See you on Sunday for WWF Fully Loaded.

Bonus Best: Here’s Me On #STRAIGHTSHOOT

If you want to hear more about the Rumble or this episode of Raw (and a lot of the thoughts from this week’s report being fleshed out in real time through nerdy conversation), be sure to check me out on Aubrey Sitterson’s Straight Shoot. It’s … uh, right here!