– Go “old school” by sharing this column like you might’ve a long time ago!
– Your comments, likes, etc. are appreciated. I haven’t really said this in a while, but you guys make what I do a lot of fun, even those of you who just show up to tell me I’m gay and wrong. Perhaps you the most. Thank you for a great year.
– Extremely important GIF via WrasslorMonkey at Punchsport.
Please click through to enjoy The Best And Worst Of WWE Raw for January 6, 2014. Raw goes old school. (Do a Nitro episode, jerks.)
Worst: Ric Flair Is Here To Make Us Feel As Mildly As Possible About The Upcoming NORMAL MATCH Between Blah And Ugh
Important note: This is not a Worst for Ric Flair. He’s isn’t the “Ric Flair” you think of when you think of Ric Flair, but he isn’t supposed to be and doesn’t have to be. As a kid who spent 15 years despising him and then 15 years loving him more than I love my parents, I am aware that TNA run aside, Flair being on your show makes your show better. Deep, forever love for the Nature Boy.
The show opened with Randy Orton: Over-explainer overly explaining to Ric Flair that he is the champion and will defeat John Cena in the REGULAREST MATCH EVER at the Royal Rumble, calling him overrated, threatening him a little and then bailing when John Cena appeared, because I guess this is Orton’s first-ever episode of Raw and he didn’t think Cena would run out and do shit if he wasn’t scheduled. I liked the “overrated” bit a lot. It got a great reaction from the crowd, and as much as I like Flair, there IS a valid argument that he’s probably overrated. The guy wrestled 60-minute matches 750 times a year for 20 years or whatever but all but maybe 15 of those were dreadfully similar, like anybody who works that much within a successful formula. I wish they’d lurk in a smark message board for a few weeks and gather material for segments like that. I also didn’t necessarily mind Cena running out to make the save, because he is the Protector Of The Status Quo and has a long history of saving poor old Ric Flair from beatdowns.
The reason I’m giving this a Worst — a big, stinking, festering Worst — is because it was the latest in a series of WWE Legends or people of import showing up to tell whoever’s champion that they aren’t really a champion unless they face John Cena, whether they’ve already faced and beaten John Cena a thousand times in a thousand different ways or not. It wasn’t as severe as what Mick Foley did, but it was wholly unnecessary to have the guy in double-digit runs as champion who currently holds two championship belts and JUST beat John Cena clean as a sheet in a TLC match feel like he’s not good enough and has to prove himself in a REGULAR MATCH.
A supplemental Worst goes to seeing Cena and Flair in the ring again, because Cena’s going for title reign 15 and it feels a hell of a lot like when Barry Bonds had 700 home runs and you knew it wasn’t fair, but he was about to be the home run king anyway.
Best/Worst: So Bryan’s Obviously Just Trolling The Wyatts, Right?
“I cannot believe my eyes to what we’re witnessed here tonight.” – Michael Cole
I don’t want to give this too much of a Worst because the match was fine (crummy Uso roll-up aside), I desperately want to see a long one-on-one match between Bryan and Mysterio before Mysterio’s done and the “Bryan joins the Wyatts” angle is only a week old. Those are three solid reasons to not Worst something.
But yeah, this wasn’t much. Bryan’s pretty obviously not “one of them,” and it makes no sense for Luke Harper to be all HEY, STOP WINNING THE MATCH FOR US, WE HATE IT WHEN WE ARE DOING WELL. Bray doesn’t do anything. It hurts the story a little I think to have Bryan join up with the Wyatt Family because of what the Authority has done to him, then have no interest whatsoever in what the Authority’s doing. He’s just the third guy in a six-man tag against the Usos and Rey Mysterio. He doesn’t even win the match. Bryan and the Wyatts were feuding already, right? This was built around Harper having beef with Bryan. Why have Bryan side with them, only to immediately feud him with the Wyatts?
Also, that blue jumpsuit would work better if Harper had one, too. Why do Rowan and Bryan have to wear uniforms but Harper gets to dress like a sleazy trucker? Does that suggest Harper is the “leader” of the followers? The Starscream to Bray’s Megatron? The Otunga to Bray’s Wade Barrett?
Worst: People With Not Much Else To Do
Why are WWE Legends who have no other role on the show simply standing backstage, hugging the walls, waiting for people to walk by so they can say their catchphrases? Is this what the physical WWE Hall of Fame is gonna be like? Are they gonna pay the Berserker to stand in the corner and huss at people as they walk around? Is Sean O’Haire gonna stand by a big sign that says BATHROOMS and tell people, “looking for the bathrooms? They’re right here. But I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.” When I buy a ticket, does the Iron Sheik pop out and threaten to f*ck my jew ass and make me humble?
I justified Nikolai Volkoff standing backstage singing for no reason by saying maybe he’s practicing for later (when he would hypothetically be involved in something in the ring and want to perform, as he does). Million Dollar Man’s back there talking to Aksana for some reason, and okay, Million Dollar Man likes ladies and Aksana has a history of shacking up with older stars. Maybe IRS is there because DiBiase is there and they’re friends, and he’s just always really worried about young people and taxes so he saw a guy walk by with a belt and decided to give him advice?
My justification for Big E Langston enjoying these interactions is “he likes/remembers these old wrestlers” and I think that’s what it was supposed to be, but the underlying message of the piece is “old wrestlers have lost their minds and don’t know where they are.”
Best: Ryback On Commentary
I’m pretty excited for a Ryback/Big E Langston showdown, not gonna lie. I wish they wouldn’t do an actual match at the pay-per-view and just have them do the “big guys notice each other and slowly square off” spot in the Royal Rumble, but I’ll take what I can get.
I also loved Ryback on color commentary, if only for him responding to Cole’s “where does the name RYBAXEL come from” with “it’s our names put together, moron” and laughing. I thought his knock on Lilian Garcia was a little necessary because it probably came from Triple H nudging him and saying “HEY BROTHER MAKE FUN OF THIS ONE LADY RING ANNOUNCER I THINK IS UGLY FOR NO REASON WHATSOEVER” before he walked out, but Ryback’s a bully so I’ll allow it. For those of you trying to be witty on Twitter, “Be A Star” jokes apply to babyfaces doing heel shit. When Sheamus steals Del Rio’s car and burrito-diarrheas all in it to send a message to Mexicans, Be A Star him. Ryback’s not SUPPOSED to Be A Star. He’s the guy the Stars are supposed to be against.
Best: Ketchup And Mustard, Or “JBL Looks Like Arnold Schwarzenegger”
They made a few jokes about how JBL looked like Vince McMahon, but he’s more Arnold to me. CALLY-FORNIA, MAGGLE! I’LL BE BACK!
Best: Roman Reigns Will Break Your Old Ass in Half, Or
Best: Dean Ambrose, Getting Scummier By The Day
Most importantly, Dean Ambrose is in the ring with Roddy Piper. I know I didn’t preface that with anything, but it still deserves a “most importantly.” Ambrose should be the new Piper. A guy who can talk his ass off, is kinda off his rocker, is an illogical sex symbol to girls who watch wrestling and can go (enough) in the ring. That’s it. Don’t feel like you’ve got to put him in tartan and be all HE’S THE NEW PIPER all the time, but if you wanna give him a Shield-themed boxing robe and have him attack Floyd Mayweather with a stool, I’m all for it.
I like where they’re going with Ambrose because it’s such a slow detachment. Look at him this week. He’s usually just got on that Under Armour shirt, but now he’s wearing a Shield hoodie over it. Rollins and Reigns are still in their swat gear. Look at his hair. It’s getting worse. It’s like he dunked his head in a bathtub before he hopped the rail. He’s getting crazier and wilder and more vocally confrontational. Piper brings up the “cracks” in The Shield and furthers the “Roman Reigns is the best guy on the team but they’re supposed to be equals” thing that got exclamation-pointed at Survivor Series and gets turned up another notch (I’m assuming) now that Reigns has beaten Punk 1-on-1 when the others couldn’t. Plus, Ambrose gets (spoiler alert) shit on by a snake. So there’s that.
All very effective, simple stuff that furthers the story of the team and (thankfully) doesn’t overexpose Piper, who is still great on the microphone but a little closer to being Old Man Bret Hart than I’m comfortable seeing him be.
Worst: Let’s Not Do A ‘Crack’ Chant With Jake The Snake In The Building, Okay
Although I’ll give a huge Best to Dean Ambrose if he can work, “you say there’s a crack in The Shield? SHOW ME THE RECEIPTS” into a promo.
Worst: Why Are Triple H And Shawn Michaels’ Friends Helping Out CM Punk?
Piper agrees to do a Piper’s Pit, a segment that almost always ends in violence, featuring three guests who specialize in showing up and causing violence, often to WWE legends. The threat of violence happens (GASP) and Piper gets saved by the Road Dogg and Billy Gunn, because of that legendary allegiance between D-X and Roddy Piper.
Anyway, I’m not too hung up on the New Age Outlaws helping Piper, but I’m a little bothered by them being announced as CM Punk’s “equalizers” against The Shield. These are guys who are answers #1 and #2 when you ask, “who are Triple H and Shawn Michaels’ friends?” You’d probably say the f*cking Road Dogg before Stephanie McMahon. They are A and B classic butt-lickers, and here they are showing up to help the Voice of the Voiceless, the guy who just a few weeks ago throwing hands at the Authority? The guy who EXISTS to defy authority? Road Dogg was just on a show alongside Josh Mathews where they retcon old WCW clips as “embarrassing” because WWE won and said they have to be. They are THE WORST.
Of course, if this turns out to be a plot point, I’ll forgive it. I’m afraid it’s just an example of WWE going “fans like this guy, fans like these guys, they’re on a team together!” without any considerations made toward characterization or history or story significance. Punk was shaking hands with Rey Mysterio and doing fist-bumpies with John Cena, maybe the big reveal is that Punk’s a colossal f*cking sell-out.
Best?: Finally, A Fresh Matchup
what, were kofi and miz busy
Alberto Del Rio vs. Sin Cara part infinity plus one is a huge negative on paper and everybody watching in my living room sorta sighed and looked at each other when ADR came out, but I liked it for a few reasons. One, it was quick and fast-paced, so we didn’t have to watch Sin Cara struggle in a bunch of chinlocks and arm-lungblowers for ten minutes. Two, Hunicara continues to be an in-WWE-ring improvement over his predecessor and can do what they want him to do without falling to pieces like those guys in Looper. Three, Del Rio defeated him with a well-timed superkick and pinned him, which eliminated Boring Del Rio Trope #1: Refuse To Release The Arm Bar After The Bell.
A nice little match. I think it’s best if we all just pretend Batista’s gonna show up with Chris Pratt and a raccoon and not destroy all the people who’re on the show every week.
Worst: More Like ‘Tell Me You Did Not Just Gay That,’ Am I Right
Just once I want Ron Simmons to wander in to find The Great Khali taking a nap, Hornswoggle calmly reading a book and Santino doing some push-ups and stop, look around all confused for 40 seconds and then say “THIS IS ACCEPTABLE.”
Best: Jack Swagger, BOSS
This match is a great example of why I stan for Jack Swagger.
Sure, Antonio Cesaro is basically the best wrestler in the company right now, Goldust is having an incredible career renaissance and killing it every time he steps into a ring and Cody Rhodes, mustache or not, is so beloved around here we made “I like what you said” synonymous with “Rhodes.” Zeb Colter has a giant sign about how we should build a fence so OBVIOUSLY he is ridiculous and amazing. But Jack Swagger, as good as he’s been, still gets crapped on a lot by fans, especially guys who write about wrestling on the Internet.
I’ve always liked the guy. I liked him in WWECW, I thought he was great with his trophies and his soaring eagle, I sent him to Mars and wrote fan-fiction about him when he was boring and loved him as the muscle for the randomly-occurring racist guy who showed up when a Mexican guy became champion. Now he’s Chris Hero in WWE’s Kings of Wrestling and somehow he STILL hasn’t won everybody over. Watch him here … watch the finishing sequence where he catches Cody off the ropes and ankle locks him, then watch how he defeats TWO obvious ankle lock counters in a single sequence. Do you know how far that goes toward legitimizing that hold? When Angle does it, either of those motions breaks it up. If you turn over on your back and paw at him with your foot, he goes flying back. Sure, he might flop around and hold on or run back and grab you, but Swagger simply stood his ground and maintained the hold. Cody rolled forward and tried to grab his leg, too. If you did that to Angle he’d go flying through the ropes and into the third row. It’s usually just to get Swagger into position for a 619. Instead, Swagger simply remembers that he is BIG AS F*CK and stands still, maintaining the hold. He didn’t break it until he got kicked in the face.
Swagger is the Jannetty of the team by proxy of Cesaro being so goddamn amazing, but he’s a GREAT Jannetty, and if you aren’t a Swagger backer already, become on. We, the people (and all that).
Best: I’m Not Sure If You’ve Heard But Goldust Has A Movie Coming Out And There’s A Teaser Trailer For It
So hey, remember in the spring of last year when every Raw report had a big paragraph at the beginning of it about how I was making a movie and needed your help, and you were all, “ugh, get to the jokes already?” Well, the good news is that I am not the Jeff Katz Wrestling Revolution Project and that movie is a real thing that exists.
We debuted the first teaser trailer for the film last week after the Raw report went up, and I wanted to specifically show it to you guys because you know who I am, I couldn’t have done it without you and it stars a guy you just watched kick Jack Swagger in the face. It’s wrestling-related, I swear.
Your job, if you choose to accept it, is:
1. Watch this over and over until we make a new one
2. Know that it’s a teaser trailer, so it’s supposed to be a mood-setting thing and not a clear explanation of the plot
3. Show it to everyone you’ve ever known, especially if you know somebody else who makes movies or enjoys them
4. Click that little “thumbs up” button on the YouTube page, because it looks good
5. Visit MeetMeThereMovie.com or our IMDB page for more information.
Thank you for your time. Now to get to the jokes already.
Worst: The Best Of Seven Series Between Sandow And Khali
SPEAKING OF JOKES
“Like getting hit with a MAGGLEWAVE!” – JBL
Welcome to match 2 in the (I guess) best of 3 between The Great Khali and A Guy Who Probably Shouldn’t Have To Be Wrestling The Great Khali Every Week, But It Could Be Worse, He Could Be Dolph Ziggler. Poor Sandow gets to slum it again against the big man, and the results are similar … Khali can’t bend at the waist (or the knees, or the neck) and the character who is supposed to be intelligent is wearing a black tank-top with the letter “U” in place of the word “you.” It’s all garbage. Spectacularly rancid garbage.
Sandow’s foot was on the rope during the pinfall and the referee didn’t see it, so Khali’s body not being able to properly roll backwards into a pin LAST week has now caused us two additional terrible Khali matches. It’s like Ice Age giving us 5 sequels. OH YEAH and also Sergeant Slaughter was there, and he TWERKED. God isn’t dead, he’s alive and he f*cking hates us.
Worst: Sgt. Slaughter Is Twerkin Maggle, He’s Twerkin
I like to think than in a better, more beautiful version of this world, Arn Anderson and Bob Backlund are having one of the best wrestling matches you’ve ever seen while Sgt. Slaughter pops his coochie and counts those “his name sounds the best/he’s the one we’ve heard of!” app votes.
Real talk: If Slaughter had never been a GI Joe and didn’t have WWE’s history lapping over itself to call him an all-time great, he’d be Ranger Ross and nobody in 2014 would know who he was.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, we can
Just … just show the segment already.
Okay, to break it down most succinctly,
Best: Brock’s new shirt and slogan. I would buy one if it came with the sponsor logos on the back. I want crowds to be cool and smart enough to pick up on this and chant it for the last five minutes of every Brock Lesnar match. It’s way better than the original version they did for Zack Ryder, which just read “EAT, SLEEP, REPEAT.”
Worst: Injuries don’t mean anything. Brock Lesnar drove Henry through a barricade and F-5’d him, brutally in fact, on the arena floor. This week Mark charges right back at him like nothing happened? At least throw some DDP-style rib tape on him, guys.
Best: Henry didn’t have his “arm broken,” which was stupid ridiculous when Triple H had it done the first time and even worse the second. The video describes it as an “elbow dislocation,” which is severe enough to sound important but not a f*cking broken arm that he’d need to be out forever to recover from.
Worst: hey Big Show, you uh, wanna address anything going on with Daniel Bryan and the Authority right now? No? You sure? okay, cool, you’re pretty strong I guess so go do your thing
Best: Aksana Keeps The Streak Alive, Or
Best: Alicia Fox Is Gonna Do That Dolph Ziggler Monkey Flip Bump If It Kills Her
I know these are both facetious Bests and I don’t want to look like a guy who can’t give legitimate praise to a Divas match featuring somebody I don’t already like, so let me say that as far as straight-up two-on-two Divas tag matches go, this was one of the best and most effort-infused attempts in a long time. The Bellas work pretty well as a tag team — they have identical, grating “yelling” voices but they’re good at getting the crowd into it and people know who they are — and everybody was working overtime and doing a pretty good job of it. So kudos, or whatever you say when you mean “kudos” but don’t want to sound like one of those weird dudes who says shit like “methinks.”
Anyway, to the facetious Bests. I don’t know which thing makes me happier:
1. Aksana got ANOTHER PINFALL, making her 2-0 post-Christmas. I wasn’t kidding when I said this was the Age of Aksanacutty. Quick question, why does her gear make her look like a shoe?
2. ALICIA FOX IS A SAILOR AGAIN I THINK. And MAN, she was going all the way over on every bump she took. I think she was either overcompensating for gravity or going for one of those Dolph Ziggler monkey flip bumps where you go all the way around once and land on your stomach. One time she clearly landed on her feet but still had to bump, so she stood up, turned around, threw up her arms like she was falling into a well and backed up into the corner. I dunno. GO SAILOR ALICIA!
Best: Welcome Back, Heath Slater
The best news from this week’s show is the return of Heath Slater, reclaiming his leadership of 3MB from Ricardo Rodriguez, who I guess was WWE’s best “act goofy and bump your ass off” substitute. And you know, I really thought that’d be an excuse for 3MB to get a victory. I thought they had it in them. Ah well, here’s to the next year of Los Matadores matches.
Worst I Just Thought About: They Totally Should’ve Brought In Mantaur And Had Him Be El Torito’s Dad
It was Old School Raw. THIS WAS YOUR CHANCE.
Worst: Or Tito Santana
yeah or tito santana
Worst: Brian Christopher Looks Like The British Bulldog
The British Bulldog in R-Truth’s pants.
Best: Rikishi’s Enormous Pleather JNCOs And K-Swiss Or Whatever
At first I thought they put a big pair of fabric-nonspecific baby pants on Rikishi because the show is PG and you can’t have a guy whose gimmick is LOOK AT MY GIGANTIC GROSS ASS, but I remembered how he showed up fully pantsless on Raw in 2012 to dance with the Usos and came up with something better. My new theory is that he worked this show on short notice and didn’t have time to get himself in shape. Is that the funniest thing in the world to anybody else? Rikishi being all, “I’m sorry, I just wouldn’t feel comfortable rubbing this version of my asshole on somebody’s face.”
Best: The Legends Try To Resist Bad News Barrett, But It Proves Fruitile
Remember back in season 1 of NXT when Wade Barrett uttered the legendary quote, “DANIEL BRYAN IS THE FRANS FRAVORITE! YOU’RE NOT EVEN THE FRANS FRAVORITE?” Welp, sometimes in the Wasteland of Wade Barrett’s mouth you get an extra letter R or two, and his attempt at saying “futile” proved … uh, futile, and became FRUITILE.
I focus grouped this, and our best ideas are that it’s a portmanteau of “fruitless” and “futile,” or he’s talking about redoing his kitchen floor with tiles with fruit designs on them. That led us to come up with an entirely new gimmick for Wade: BAD FOOD BARRETT. Jerry Lawler threw up everywhere and had to go to the hospital, right? When he was in the ER, Barrett should’ve burst up through the floor on a giant lectern and been all I’M AFRAID YOU’VE HAD SOME BAD FOOD.
Best: Punk Vs. Reigns
Punk varse Roman Reigns was the best of the three “Punk faces guys he beat in a 3-on-1 handicap match one at a time for some reason” series, and not just because I like Roman the most. I think Punk works best fighting a guy bigger and stronger than him — Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, Cena, Samoa Joe, etc. — because his style matches up well with theirs and he’s believable as an underdog, more so than when he’s facing a guy his size or smaller like Daniel Bryan and they’re still his athletic superior.
It’s also really good to see that Roman can do these big one-on-one main-events, because as good as The Shield is, trios awesomeness doesn’t always translate to “next big thing” main-event star. I think WWE can be confident now that all three Shield guys can truly go and be an important part of the show moving forward, and that their breakup can be beneficial for everyone instead of that “welp, we’re giving up” junk they did with the Nexus. Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns are all identifiable, marketable characters who can wrestle your Daniel Bryans as well as they can wrestle your John Cenas, and that’s important. Plus, Superman Punch, you guys.
I also liked that Roman won, making him the “best” member of the Shield and furthering that angle, but that he only won after shoving Punk into Ambrose, which I’m sure Ambrose will be able to take credit for. That’s good stuff. A great TV match that got everybody excited and built to a logical, emphatic and (somewhat) clean finish. This is how you make new stars, guys. Give them big moments, follow them up with a few big wins and MAINTAIN. Don’t just let Hurricane schoolboy the Rock and still be losing to Jimmy Wang Yang a few months later.
Best: Raw Goes Full Heroes Of Wrestling
And then, the moment you all came for. Jake “The Snake” Roberts, a man whose brilliant wrestling mind has been taken away from us by demons for far too long (and the man who inadvertently gave birth to Austin 3:16), made a surprise return to WWE to do that weird thing we all think is cool where he puts a snake on an unconscious guy and the snake doesn’t really DO anything to them. When you are six this is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN YOUR LIFE. When you’re 30, it’s mostly “watch out, guys, I know you’re going for Irish whips but don’t step on the snake.”
Say what you will about Roman Reigns, but Dean Ambrose got to duel Roddy Piper on the microphone and get snaked by Jake Roberts. That’s a pretty good Raw for him. They edited the video a little bit, but Jake even added some sad, modern Jake to the mix by kinda-sorta using the snake as his penis to rub it in Dean’s face and then french kissing it. The snake, not Dean Ambrose’s face. That’s an entirely different story.
I’m happy to see Jake back, and I hope he can continue to stay healthy and happy and contribute positively to pro wrestling. And hey, maybe we’ll get a DDT at the Rumble, yeah? If Jake DDTs Batista you have all my money.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
Jake: “Seriously, i knew Macho Man, and he would want me to tell you this.”
Punk: “Oh yea, what i love him!”
Jake: “Stop doing the f*cking Elbow.”
We haven’t seen him in years! Now we all know how his daughter feels! :O
Don’t do drugs Ambrose, the Ghost of Wrestling Future is here to tell you.
In fairness, Arn Anderson is probably pretty use to hearing “I’ve got some bad news.”
“7 people? That’s a year’s work!” – WWF Superstar Virgil.
DO IT BARRETT READ FLAIR HIS WIKI PAGE
McIntyre, switch sides! You could be Drew Cool!
Bringing out Too Cool is to Attitude Era fans what showing a documentary on race relations is to people who say life was better in the 1950′s.
its like looking in zac ryders neon future!
Paul: “Brock also told me other witty and eloquent things in the back!”
Brock: *mouth full of Jimmy Johns* “Mmmhuh!”
Thanks, everybody. See you next week.