– Sorry in advance.
– Shares, likes, comments and other social media things are appreciated.
– Note: I may be headed to watch Hell in a Cell live in Dallas, so if you’re planning to be there, too, give me a heads up so we can say hi and exchange the highest of fives.
Please click through and enjoy the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for October 6, 2014.
Worst: The Same Raw Opening To Set Up The Same Odds That’ll Be Overcome In The Same Way
Best: The Usos Are One Move Away From Hitting The Meltzer Driver
We’ve seen The Usos And Somebody against The Rhodes Brothers And Somebody a hundred times now, but it’s always pretty fun, and it’s great to see Dolph Ziggler commanding Uso dives and superkicks in triplicate. Ziggler should watch a Best of the Young Bucks compilation and learn how to do all their doubleteams by himself.
My only sincere complaint is that WWE’s drawn a thick, bold line between “important” six-man tag team matches and “regular” ones. An important WWE six-man tag is one of the best wrestling things in the world. They do them better than anyone. Go back and watch The Shield vs. the Wyatt Family from Elimination Chamber, or the post-WrestleMania Evolution matches. They’re built around both teams having personalities and advantages and disadvantages, and how those clash. They’re high drama. Now watch a “regular” six-man tag like this one. There’s no story or drama, it’s just guys going through the motions until the finishing sequence. The finishing sequences are usually GREAT so we don’t care, but imagine how good they’d be if they were telling a cohesive story in the build UP to them? You wouldn’t automatically know the match was almost over because everyone started running around. It’s like that old joke about watching NBA games. You don’t need to watch the first three quarters, just watch the ending.
That’s more of a constructive observation than a “complaint,” I guess, because I still enjoy them. I just want them to put as much effort into the beginning and middle of matches as they do the end, or the post-match.
Worst: Did The Usos Forget How To Talk?
1. “Bros before Weirdos” is probably the worst attempts at a catchphrase I’ve ever heard. For a bunch of guys who want us to Be STARS, WWE babyfaces are quick to disown anybody who acts moderately abnormal. Also, Goldust and Stardust are also bros. BROS WHO WEAR FACE PAINT. At least they don’t wear matching clothes and sing and dance together before matches, you weirdos.
2. The Usos screwed up their own taunt in the video package. “Oooh” “Ohhh.” No “s” sound. In my brain it should be “Oooh/SO,” but on their merch it says “uce/o.” Do they how which one’s supposed to say the S? Does last night’s OOH OH confirm that they have no idea? Paul Imig pointed this out to me, and now I have to stress about it all the time. Thanks, Paul.
Worst: Adam Rose Is Literally The Devil
Here comes Mephistopheles and his daughters, Kathie Lee and Hoda Kotb, surrounded by a bunch of Twisted Ice Tea drinking demons dressed like vikings and hamburgers.
I love that I’ve gotten to the point in my life and career where I have to “review” two drunk daytime TV ladies sitting in a wrestling ring shilling wine, smacking each other on the ass and f*cking up trust-falls. There have probably been worse celebrity guest appearances, but I can’t think of one more determined to waste my time. Compared to this, the Hot Tub Time Machine guys getting gay panicked about Mark Henry in a speedo feels like a Chikara storyline. Cedric the Entertainer in a cape dancing with Hornswoggle feels like Wrestle Kingdom.
The worst part is that they followed it with a Luke Harper promo video, so they did the BLEARP Wyatt Family “horror graphic” and did not follow it up with the Wyatt Family attacking Kathie Lee and Hoda. That would’ve been the greatest thing of all time. The Wyatts would’ve been cult heroes for the rest of their run.
(Seriously though, I want Adam Rose to keep getting redder and more covered in horns and fur until he is literally the devil. I want him to be the millennial version of Sean O’Haire’s old character. Instead of trying to tempt you into sinning, he just shows up with alcohol and disingenuous 60-year olds and is all YOU WANTED TO WATCH A WRESTLING SHOW? IT’S PARTY TIME ALL THE TIME, DON’T BE A LEMON, followed by unnaturally deep, maniacal laughter and him disappearing in a cloud of smoke and fire.)
Best: Bo Dallas Is Fairly Earning Title Shots
Mark Henry is a sore loser — something still pointed out by the announce team, so it’s not just in my head (for once) — and tries to put Bo through the announce table with a World’s Strongest Slam. Bo escapes it, slides back into the ring and wins by count-out. Mark is once again upset, but hey, guess what? Not only is Bo undefeated against Henry, he’s winning these matches within the rules. He’s not pulling out a roll of quarters and blasting Mark in the face with them, he’s winning with his finish or getting back in the ring when Mark stumbles around on the outside. I know we’re leaning towards Henry as a heel again, but … is Bo SUPPOSED to be a face? I thought I was pulling it out of my ass, but when I type it all out he really looks like a decent guy. What’s the counter argument? “This guy’s a third-generation star who tries hard, cares about wins and losses, wins his matches fairly and tells people to believe in himself. I’m going to boo him because his face is ugly and I don’t like his voice.” What’re you, five?
Note: yeah he likes to go for the “exposed turnbuckle” sometimes, but even that’s not necessarily “cheating.” If you whip somebody into the ring post, you aren’t cheating. If you slam somebody’s head into the mat you shouldn’t get disqualified. It’s called being a RING GENERAL, people.
The best part is that by winning a few matches in a row, Bo Dallas has earned an Intercontinental Championship match on Main Event. I am all for WWE adopting a basic points system where you get a shot at a title in your division by winning a bunch of matches. You don’t need sabermetrics to make the sports part of wrestling seem legit.
Best: Dean Ambrose Would Rather Have Fun At An Amusement Park For A Few Hours Than Participate In Raw
The very best thing about Dean Ambrose is how close he seems to the sensibilities of a real person. That seems weird to type, since his schtick is being a “lunatic fringe,” but he reacts to things in ways that make sense. Last week when he told Cena he wanted Rollins all to himself and Cena responded in the typical “I AM THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON, JACK” style, Ambrose didn’t cut a promo on him about it. He just said “… right” to himself and moved on with his life. Birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, Cena gotta Never Give Up. Last night when Ambrose ended up on Cena’s team in Another Goddamn Handicap Match and Cena started up again, Ambrose just said, “yeah, no, I’m gonna go do something else.” And then he WENT AND DID SOMETHING ELSE. Has this been the trick to John Cena all along? Making dismissive wanking motions at him and letting him do his thing instead of trying to defeat or change him?
Even at the end of the show, Ambrose simply waits for Cena to be vulnerable and attacks him. It’s a face-on-face sneak attack, essentially, and Ambrose gets cheered for it. Why? Because it’s what any of us would’ve done. Sometimes a good guy doing bad guy stuff makes sense, as long as it works in the contest of “being a person on a wrestling show” and “protecting one’s ass.” Don’t steal a guy’s car and shit in it for laughs. Get into a match with him and try to beat him up as much as possible. Be a human being with a functional brain, just one who might also wear sunglasses in the subway at night and steal a man’s hot dog cart to use as a weapon later.
Worst: Nobody Knows New York City Geography
I live in Austin, where the mention of public transit causes a bunch of Yosemite Sam types to yell SOCIALISM and fire guns in the air. So I don’t know which subway stations are which either, but I do know a dozen people tweeted me to tell me the stops were wrong, and that Ambrose boarded a train somewhere unreasonably far away instead of using the one right outside the Barclays Center. Maybe he got there via his Shield Helicopter.
(I’m pretending he got it in the divorce and still flies it around everywhere.)
Worst: Roman Reigns Has Nothing To Say
“I was in the hospital. Now I’m not in the hospital. Will return to work soon. Believe that.”
REALLY GLAD WE SET UP A SATELLITE LINK FOR THAT, ROMAN.
Best/Worst: Brie Bella Can Act Badly And Ride Her Husband’s Popularity With One Hand Tied Behind Her Back
The good news is that aside from Stevie Ray-esque threats to steal the rights to the Bella name, the Nikki vs. Brie story is progressing nicely. Detached from my natural THE HEEL IS ALWAYS RIGHT inclinations, Nikki using her rub with The Authority to get Brie booked into all the punishment matches NIKKI was put in when Brie quit is great, as is Brie winning all of them and “proving” (I guess) that Nikki’s just a chump who doesn’t know how to Overcome The Odds. Brie should’ve ended up with Cena and Nikki should’ve ended up with D-Bry. Maybe they Twin Magic’d in real life and got it mixed up.
I want the story to keep going until Brie’s in a 3-on-1 handicap match against Orton, Seth Rollins and Kane. Just keep amping up the absurdity of Brie proving Nikki wrong until she’s getting nearfalls on Brock Lesnar.
The bad news is that the match was garbage. Summer Rae and Layla are hanging out in the shallow end of the Alicia Fox “switch allegiances every time we see you” pool, and Raw Summer Rae is so helpless that a Bella Twin with ONE ARM can knee her ONCE and it’s a Critical. Whatever. Maybe next week they’ll pull Aksana from the grave and let Brie distract her and roll her up in one smooth, necromantic maneuver.
Best: Most Of Tyson Kidd vs. Jack Swagger
First question: When did Natalya turn into Legolas?
Second question: Did anybody else wince when Jack Swagger and Tyson Kidd kinda fell off the top rope trying to do a counter into an ankle lock, and Swagger landed on Kidd’s bent legs? I thought he’d broken his ankles.
Aside from that, I really liked this. Part of it is my sudden, instant love of anything Tyson Kidd does, and some of it’s how happy I am to see Jack Swagger doing something besides feeling bad about Rusev. The other parts are “it was a fun little wrestling match,” even if it didn’t appear to accomplish much. I like that Raw accidentally (or purposely?) reinforces the NXT talking point that Kidd gets to be on Raw but doesn’t take advantage of it. He just shows up and loses or spend an entire Natalya match checking his phone. Granted, I spend most of Natalya’s matches checking my phone, too, but I’m not in the middle of one of my 6 annual television appearances.
WWE has a few under-the-radar main roster guys who’ve been around for years and can go, but are rarely encouraged to. Instead of proposing one of those “bring back the cruiserweight division” pipe dreams, I’d actually suggest something more along the lines of an X-Division title for WWE … something that asks mid-and-lowercard guys to more or less “win” by being quick, exciting and innovative. If you’re gonna put Swagger and Kidd in a five minute match, that’s cool, but it’d be even cooler if you created some kind of goal or illusion that they’re competing for a reason and working toward something. I know that “MAKE A NEW BELT” is hacky and kinda stupid considering what they do with the rest of their belts, but still, if there was a systematic presentation of quick, kick-ass little wrestling matches, I think it’d benefit all the Kofi Kingstons in the company that have shit to do and are asked to like it.
Best: Edge And Christian
You know what I like most about Edge and Christian? They aren’t currently in the Impact Zone challenging The Wolves to sixty consecutive matches to prove who the greatest tag team of all time is. When the Dudleys are wearing beanies and threatening peoples’ lives and the Hardys are covered in paint talking about PASSION and MOMENTS THAT LIVE FOREVER, I just want these two dorky Canadian dads in J. Crew clothes to chime in with “we won the first TLC match. We won the second one, too. Say hi to Eddie Edwards for me.”
Worst: WWE Fan Nation
Sorry for all the screencaps in place of videos this week. I guess WWE Fan Nation finally figured out that if they want people to watch Raw, they shouldn’t put every single match’s finish on YouTube in HD the second the show ends.
Worst: Probably A Funny Idea
You’ve got to know your audience.
I’ll put it to you this way: if I’m at a Chikara show (or NXT) and a mini dressed as a bull was wrestling a mini dressed as an alligator, I’d love it. Hell, I love it anyway, because I have to watch every minute of every Raw and survive by falling in love with niche nonsense. But seriously, if I’m at a show like that and the bull tries to PUT THE ALLIGATOR TO SLEEP by putting a bag over its head and lovingly stroking it, and the alligator’s friend came in the ring so the bull whipped off the bag and the suddenly enraged alligator dwarf VIOLENTLY ATTACKED HIM WITH A GATOR ROLL, I’d lose my mind. I’d be on the Internet in five seconds telling everybody to watch it.
The problem is that you’re at a WWE show in Brooklyn. These people want to see famous wrestlers they know and some of the cooler cult favorites like Damien Sandow. They’re gonna chant “this is stupid” at this match, because IT’S STUPID. It is absolutely, undeniably stupid as balls. This crowd would shit all over invisible grenades, referees getting involved in chain wrestling and a swamp monster bonding with an owl-based opponent because “nature” too, because they aren’t that crowd.
Not saying one’s better than the other. You just have to know what kind of wrestling crowd you’ve got before you write your wrestling show. If you’re somewhere cool, do meta comedy. If you’re in rural Texas, book a bunch of headlocks and fat cowboys. If you’re in Chicago, don’t have Chicago’s least favorite wrestler say it’s “his kinda town.” WWE’s has to have an actuary or some kind of concierge on the payroll that could figure this out for them, right?
Best: IF YA SMELLLLL
The Rock was on this episode. He was funny and said funny words and I REMEMBER HIM from a long time ago! I started a “you still got it” chant from my living room and due to our deep, personal connection, I know he heard it. Great to see THE BRAHMA BULL in action again!
Worst: The Rock
I’m sorry. I tried.
The Rock’s fine. Longtime readers know the character “The Rock” (important: not the man, as I do not know the man) is basically the walking, talking representation of pretty much everything I hate about pro wrestling and entertainment. I hate the act. I hate that his “cool insults” are just babytalk, and people still lose their minds. Before it was “kung pao bitch,” and now it’s “Moscow moose knuckle.” I hate that if he’s within 10 feet of a woman, he’s gonna spend 10 minutes talking about how he wants to f*ck them, how they want to f*ck him or how they’ll NEVER f*ck him. Or some combination of the three. He shows up, says snootchie bootchies, calls the nearest lady a whore and everybody everywhere happily claps. It’s not something you need to read me to write about, because if you already agree, you get it, and if you don’t, you’ve breezed through this paragraph to call me a hipster pussy in the comments section.
Here’s the thing: I don’t care about Rusev. The question of whether or not Rusev was “helped” or “buried” is ridiculous. Standing next to a popular wrestler doesn’t “help” an unpopular one or give them some kind of rub, especially not when they decided to do the segment on Monday afternoon and aren’t gonna do any followups. Rusev doesn’t look good getting shitcanned by a guy people like. People who love the Rock and don’t care about WWE’s actual roster aren’t going to see this and go “wow, you know who was really great there? Rusev. The way he got emasculated, punched a few times and thrown out of the ring was AWESOME! I want to tune in next week and see what he does.” People backstage aren’t gonna come up to Rusev all sheepishly and be like, “wow, congrats on getting beaten up by a celebrity.” It’s just Flo Rida shoving Heath Slater on a much, much larger scale.
At the same time, who cares if it buried him? It’s Rusev. What, is this gonna curb all that killer momentum he got wrestling pay-per-view matches against Mark Henry? He’s a foreign heel doing an 80s gimmick in 2014. I like him and think he’s a good wrestler, but it’s not like Rock showed up and, say, ended CM Punk’s WWE title run a month before WrestleMania so he could have the main event. Rusev ain’t Daniel Bryan in March. He’s Bo Dallas with an accent.
The major issue I have with the Rock comes down to the attitude he creates in the people who watch wrestling, because I have to more or less directly communicate with people who watch wrestling. If Orton does something, we can talk about it. We can argue, call each other names, whatever, it’s fine. If The Rock shows up and does ANYTHING ANYWHERE, the battle lines are immediately drawn between “real” wrestling fans and “hipsters” who just want to hate everything. It becomes a threatening challenge to two different hive minds’ opinions. The Rock is the popular guy in high school. If you hate him, you’re a jealous, pretentious dork. If you like him, you’re an idiot sycophant. There are few ways to say “I didn’t like this” or “why did they do this?” without being something.
Wrestling fans (and fans of anything) are often defensive, confrontational, hate-brimming-under-the-surface weirdos. The popular guy from 15 years ago showing up to dam the gap between what people who’ve moved on used to love and what jerks like me stuck around to keep trying to love just makes all those adjectives worse.
That’s all I wanted to say. I’ll admit that it was unexpected, and that’s good. For better or worse, few wrestlers ever command a crowd like this guy, and it’s cool that the one legitimate mainstream, worldwide entertainment star to come from pro wrestling still shows up to occasionally be a part of it. I just wish it didn’t always have to make me so goddamn mad.
Worst: Let’s Ask The WWE Universe What They Thought Of The Rock’s Interaction With Lana
“I hate her, I want to see her get f*cked” has got to be one of the worst things boys do.
Worst: RIP Emma
AJ’s look of disdain at Emma was hilarious, but also sort of sadly appropriate. I wrote a lot about it the during her recent appearance on NXT, but her time with Santino and the “whoops, I pocketed a protective case” scandal took the wind out of her sails, the gas out of her tank, and the whatever else out of her whatever else. She just feels like a blank sheet of paper now.
The only thing I could recommend would be a drastic gimmick change and refocusing, or time spent away. I think she’s benefit tremendously from hanging out in TNA for a while, where she’d instantly be more Gail Kim than Velvet Sky. TNA needs more women who can wrestle, and WWE’s still pretty far from knowing what the hell to do with their batch of Sara Del Rey-trained Divas in developmental. Spend a year or two as “Tenille,” get the best she can out of Hot Mess and return in 2016, when Sasha Banks walks the main roster earth and wrestling fans have long forgotten That Time Emma Stole Stuff.
Worst: Yep, It’s Coming
Remember a long time ago when I mentioned that I’d accidentally gotten spoiled on some upcoming Wyatt Family stuff, but didn’t want to share the particulars in case they ditched it? Yeah, I think this is that. Sorry, everybody.
Best: Damien By God Sandow
If you missed it earlier, someone filmed Damien Sandow for the entirety of the Miz vs. Sheamus match, and now “Sandow Cam” is the only way I want to watch Raw.
He’s so damn good, and I’m happy to hear at least this one specific crowd lose their mind for him. Maybe it’ll start a trend. There’s really only two ways you can go with Mizdow, and they’re both great:
1. Have him start to hear the crowd response, get more involved in matches, make The Miz mad about it and then turn on him to PYRO AND BALLYHOO.
2. Have him realize he’s a better Miz than Miz and BECOME The Miz. Change his name to The Miz and everything. Not only would that set Sandow up for a megalomaniacal, over-the-top heel run he’d be aces at, but it might give “Mike Mizanin” a chance to be a sincere, serious pro wrestler and not the corny also-ran he’s been since April 2012.
Of course, Miz kinda eats it in both of those angle ideas because Sandow ends up looking cooler and better, but you know what? Sandow IS cooler and better than Miz. Sometimes you’ve got to play your best hand.
Worst: It’s A DQ Finish Who Cares
A 3-on-1 handicap match happened, giving John Cena a 100% chance of victory. He won when the referee called for a disqualification because “it was time to do the post-match stuff.”
Best/Worst: HOT DOG DEAN AMBROSE
I can only throw so much shade at the idea of a man getting into a 3-on-2 handicap match by accident, bailing on it to visit a local attraction, having a change of heart or whatever in the middle of an amusement park, jacking a hot dog vender and assumedly pushing a hot dog cart back across the city (and possibly on a subway train) to use as a weapon in a post-match attack. And somehow he’s got ketchup and mustard IN HOLSTERS ON HIS HIP. WHAT. OH WAIT NOW HE’S TONGING SETH ROLLINS IN THE NUTS. It’s the TONGING DEATH GRIP.
That all said (shouted?), I wish Ambrose had shown up and just kicked their ass instead of prop fighting them. If he’d ran out to make the save and blistered them with cool offense it would’ve “meant more” for his physical well-being as a wrestler, but kids love that corny food fighting stuff, and I am not the target audience. You saw the response he got Future Shock DDT’ing Cena after the Hell in a Cell match announcement, right? Imagine that, but sustained over like five minutes of thrilling ass-beatings.
Ah, whatever. At least I got to see Randy Orton get covered in mustard and accidentally realize his destiny as a Man Who Looks Like A Hot Dog.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
John Cena is totally that kid who wants to play a video game but doesn’t want to buy it. GET YOUR OWN FEUD, JOHN.
HODA can keep her name but KENTA can’t?
It’s a good day to be a lemon
Big Baby Yeezus
Roman Reigns bringing it Via Satellite
Nice to see some things run in the family
LANA: And you interrupt us, without introducing yourself to the great Rusev?
ROCK: I’m th-
RUSEV: IT DOESN’T MATTER I WILL KICK YOU IN GROIN.
This is when Rocky announces that we’ve defeated ISIS, right?
For someone who’s always talking about the people you’d think the Rock would be more amenable to Communism.
Bill at the End
“AND BY THE WAY LANA, #GAMERGATE IS ALL ABOUT CORRUPTION IN JOURNALISM, YOU SJW WHORE!”
After last weeks promo by Hulk Hogan, Susan G. Coleman is trending worldwide…
Calling it, Joan Lunden gets interrupted with, “I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news!”
Harsh. Thanks, everybody. See you next week.