– In case you missed it, we’ve added a vintage Best and Worst of WWF Monday Night Raw to our schedule. It’s just like the WCW Monday Nitro column, only with evil clowns instead of Himalayan ice mummies.
– Shares, likes, comments and other social media things are appreciated. Stuff like this helps the column keep going during these terrible times when the shows are hard to get through and nobody wants to read about them. Do your part so I don’t get put on Warming Glow and made to write The Best And Worst Of Chrisley Knows Best.
Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for December 1, 2014
Worst: We’ve Got A Lot Of Time To Kill Before This Vince/Austin Podcast, So Just Do Whatever
Last week’s episode began with a 30-minute sarcastic conversation recapping the events of Survivor Series, punishing Team Authority and announcing the night’s matches. It was necessary, I guess, but could’ve been finished in 10. This week was more of the same, with John Cena taking half a goddamn hour to passive-aggressively feud with a laptop and announce a Cena vs. Seth Rollins tables match for TLC. It takes so long. By the time they get to Cena going through a table you feel like you’re in hour three.
I don’t know if WWE’s making a conscious decision to use the first 30 minutes of their show as a “pre-show” to catch everyone up, but I’m tired of it. I may have to start tuning in at 8:30 and letting the “moments ago” recaps fill me in. It sets such a boring, meandering precedent for a show that’s supposed to be exciting. Vince said on the Stone Cold podcast that these chunks of white noise are necessary so there’s “no wrestling for wrestling’s sake,” and I’m so shaken by that. EVERYTHING on Raw exists for the sake of existing. Do you even watch the show? There’s no long-term planning, and saying “the laptop said we have to have a tables match” does not suddenly add gravity to a think you very clearly and obviously pulled out of your ass on Monday afternoon.
If you need exposition to justify Fernando vs. Jack Swagger, why not have the announce team explain it as Fernando and Swagger are walking to the ring? Or use some of that play-by-play time they’re wasting making pre-written bunny puns to say “here’s why you should care about this match?” In theory, that’s their jobs. The how and why of a wrestling match is communicated from the ring to a home audience by the people talking over it. You could cut 30 minutes of boring programming by having Cole say “earlier today we found out the anonymous Raw general manager has put John Cena in a tables match against Seth Rollins at TLC with some suspicious stipulations.” You could cut another five by having him say “Fandango likes to dance, but now he’s wearing a black shirt.” Boom, no wrestling for wrestling’s sake.
Worst: The Holy Spirit Squad
So how long do I get to laugh at you for mansplaining how Xavier Woods’ James Brown In Church vignettes were a red herring for a serious faction? A month? Forever?
In case you missed Smackdown, it turns out those vignettes of happy, smiling black guys clapping their hands and dancing in front of a gospel choir were a red herring for the debut of happy, smiling black guys clapping their hands and dancing in front of a gospel choir.
To clarify, there’s nothing “racist” about them, it’s just super disappointing that WWE bundled all the black guys and gave them a “this is how we think black people act” gimmick. What are they, even? JBL won’t shut up about how much they love to have fun, Cole’s about two bad sentences from screaming I LOVE THEM BECAUSE THEY AREN’T UPPITY and Lawler’s clapping his hands like he’s an infant watching Boohbah. Are they guys who met at youth group and really enjoyed each others’ company? As far as I can tell they just bought matching outfits and yell “HAA!” before they do moves. They’re The Four Doinks without the clown makeup. Well, in different clown makeup.
Worst: Looooots Of Time To Kill
Let’s break down everything wrong with Tag Team Turmoil.
1. Direct one-on-one or two-on-two gauntlet matches continue to be terribly unfair. There’s no process for earning your spot, so you just have to be the last or next-to-last team and hope you’re in against tired guys or randomly inserted jobbers. How are you earning the right to be #1 contenders to anything by winning a gauntlet match? The Usos beat a team that’d already won a match and then took advantage of a molly-addled maniac’s miscommunication with his pet rabbit. Couldn’t we have just said “The Usos are #1 contenders because they always are” and showcased these teams somewhere else? Maybe sometime during that opening half hour?
Note: ‘No Mercy’-style gauntlet matches where there are four guys in the ring and people get replaced when they’re eliminated are better, because the timing and chaos still give you legitimate obstacles to overcome.
2. I guess Stardust’s character is now “he hisses” and that’s all we’re getting. Forget CM Punk, Cesaro and Dolph Ziggler, if I’m podcasting with Vince the first question I’m asking him is how the f*ck did you lose me on Stardust?
3. How does A New Day debut on Raw? By being distracted and rolled-up for a loss. WELCOME TO RAW, GUYS, YOU LOVE TO HAVE FUN.
Seriously, why build up guys with weeks and weeks of vignettes to have them do what Slater Gator or Los Matadores could’ve done with zero prep. “Hey Titus, we need you to spinebuster Stardust in about two minutes, then get distracted and let Tyson Kidd roll you up.” “Sure thing, let me put on some shoes and I’ll be at gorilla.” All you had to do was wait for Titus to put on his shoes. You did not need a month of Big E pretending to be Reverend Brown from Coming To America.
4. I like the Usos 100% less when they don’t do the Goofy yell after OOO-SO.
5. Are we in a Groundhog Day situation with Adam Rose and The Bunny? How long are they teasing a breakup? I feel like we’re entering Sting vs. Hollywood Hogan levels of slow burn.
6. Michael Cole says the Bunny winning the tag team championships would be like “the golden egg,” showing a fundamental misunderstanding of both fairy tales and mammals. JBL says the “Gobbly-googer will roll over in his grave.” Again, these guys could be explaining the match for people watching and helping get over characters and stories instead of doing this dizzy bat race of the brain and stumbling headfirst into sentences.
Best: Tom Phillips Got A Haircut, Or
Best: ‘I Made Up A Bunch Of Stuff, Just Roll With It’
Tom Phillips just took the announcer lie of “I talked to him earlier today” to the next level by saying he’s DONE SOME RESEARCH on Erick Rowan. It turns out he has a genius level IQ and is an “award-winning vintner.” He then explains what a vintner is, because he’s talking to a wrestling audience. Then he’s all “with all this information I’ve just made up, WHY FEUD WITH THE BIG SHOW?” I don’t know, Tom. Maybe ask him why he’s got a genius IQ but wears the same coveralls and plastic sheep mask every day? Ask him how and why Bray Wyatt came to mentally control an award-winning vintner, and if he did so to get a bunch of free wine. Maybe ask him why the Wyatts broke up at all? Ask him who that pregnant lady from the videos was. Ask him what the deal was with him and Renee, and if he’s over that. ASK HIM HOW HE TELEPORTS. There are so many pertinent questions to ask before “why are you mad at the guy who turned on you at the pay-per-view.”
Worst: And I Looked, And Behold A Pale Horse: And His Name That Sat On Him Was Death, And Hell Followed With Him
Seeing an advertisement for the Slammy Awards is like being woken up in the middle of the night by a call from a crying relative.
Worst: I CAN’T WAIT UNTIL THIS SHOW’S OVER, RENEE
“I don’t know how to whistle. Did you know that? Ah well, only 2 1/2 more hours to go. Sorry to make everyone wait. We’re podcasting for podcasting’s sake!”
Best: Big Red, Or Who’s Ready For TABLES LADDERS AND STAIRS
Sure, Erick Rowan is “Big Red,” but what color are his boogers?
The announce team LOVES “Big Red.” They can’t stop saying it, like they created it on the fly and nobody’s ever though to call a guy with red hair Big Red. Next week’s Lawler’s gonna mention that Rowan’s got a “carrot top” and lose his shit. I’d prefer they gave Rowan a nickname based on his voluptuous man-ass, but they probably look at you weird down at the U.S. Copyright Office when you try to register “Man Ass.”
One of the weirdest parts of the show for me is that they’re building to the TLC pay-per-view, so every feud centers around one guy hitting another with a specific weapon. This is the weirdest part of any TLC build. John Cena and Seth Rollins will attack each other with tables, because they’ve got a tables match. Ryback and Kane will attack each other with chairs to set up a chairs match. Harper attacks Ziggler with a ladder. You see where this is going. It’s like they’re all controlled by computer chip and have no other option. Ambrose and Wyatt have to fight with all three, because they’re in a TLC match. It’s so f*cking phony and straight out of a video game. There’s nothing organic or entertaining about guys saying “we have a chairs match, so now we’re fighting with chairs” unless you’re a six-year old playing with action figures.
Show and Rowan are fighting each other with stairs, to set up a … stairs match? I think everyone else called the available match stips and they don’t want to confused the Universe by mixing and matching. Maybe this whole thing is on purpose. Maybe guys know TLC’s coming up, so if they run out and attack someone with a ladder, WWE management will put them in a ladder match on pay-per-view. Is that it? Are they just playing the percentages to get a spot on the show? If Zack Ryder showed up from oblivion and put Diego through a table three weeks before TLC, would WWE have to comply?
Best: I Don’t Care How Much America Gets Insulted As Long As Lana Is Happy
Rusev defended the honor of his girlfriend, defeated 19 other men and assaulted a racist.
It’s interesting to hear the announce team justify which actions deserve “revenge” and which ones don’t. In most situations, a WWE heel will do something bad to a WWE babyface, and that face will respond by getting “revenge” for it for a month. It doesn’t matter what you did or how often you did it … if you did something wrong and people boo you, you’re entitled to an infinity of embarrassment and punishment. Here, the situation is muddled. Remember when Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger were prejudiced jerks who questioned and wanted to deport Mexicans? They had a brief, solid turn where they focused their energies on “truly” defending the U.S.A. against people who’d drag it through the mud, because sure, they were racists, but they were our racists. That sorta wore out its welcome when they failed to accomplish anything, and the Evil Foreign Menace just proved himself right by beating them cleanly.
Instead of that being that, Swagger (and Mark Henry, and Big Show, and America) keep trying to “defeat” Rusev. This should still be fine because of all the shit Rusev’s crew talks about our country, but it’s gone from reasonable to absurd. How much can you throw at a guy before his point starts becoming valid? Rusev and Lana hate America because Americans are stupid, unfair failures. Since Rusev’s debut, every American he’s faced has been a stupid, unfair failure. All of them. They sneak attack him, try to force him to do the Pledge of Allegiance, tear down his flag, disrespect him at every turn. He deserves grief for hating America I guess, but y’all aren’t helping. If I was Rusev and I’m a beloved patriot who’s never been pinned or submitted and runs with Lana, I’d talk shit about you too. Constantly.
Best: Cane Noelle
Santa Mick is the greatest, don’t get me wrong, but my heart was hoping the Nasty Boys would run in and attack them both with trash can lids.
Worst: STOP GIVING MY WIFE OPPORTUNITIES
Are you getting the feeling that nothing happened on this show?
One of the biggest stories of the night (not a joke) was The Miz finally watching Naomi’s music video from seven months ago, approaching her backstage to compliment her twerking and giving her a business card with the number of his Hollywood agent. Naomi’s response is totally reasonable. She goes “uh, okay” and takes the card. If Miz is lying and being a creeper and he’s trying to get Naomi on the Bang Bus or whatever, that’s the end of the story. You throw the card in the garbage. Instead, WWE skips about eight steps and goes straight to Jimmy Uso (Naomi’s shoot husband) finding Miz at the commentary table and slapping him in the face. The actual story is, “The Miz is a phony who is hitting on his pay-per-view opponent’s wife.” The story we’re given without all the information in the middle is, “Jimmy Uso is possessive, jumping to conclusions and being a total asshole.”
When Naomi got picked by the WWE App poll, I wanted Jimmy to run back out and start attacking fans in the front row. I also want the reveal to be that Grumpy Cat’s Second Worst Christmas Ever needed a twerking expert for a scene and Jimmy blew it.
Best: Damien Mizdow Is The Best Wrestler Right Now
This legitimately might be my only wrestling-related compliment of the night: Damien Sandow is AWESOME right now.
His match with Fernando (seriously) wasn’t much, but he made everything seem important. His reaction to the crowd support is great, because he’s clearly into it but trying not to let it show. That’s not his actual reaction, that’s character work. That’s an attention to detail most other guys miss. Also great is him SELLING THE FACE during the figure-four. Watch him when he does it, he contorts his face and looks like a super villain trying to kill the hero with lightning bolts from his fingers. That’s respecting the move AND the fictional situation where you’ve crossed your legs with some guy and it’s supposed to cause him so much pain that he gives up. This is supposed to be a real fight, you know? Even your offense should be a struggle. Watch Benoit’s face when he puts people in the Crossface. He doesn’t just bite his lip and stare forward. He throws back his head and screams. Same with Daniel Bryan. Now watch Miz do a figure-four. “Nodding your head and closing your eyes” is not selling the face.
It’s very easy to gauge Sandow’s success or failure based on card position and crowd response, but don’t forget to look at the man’s work. It’s very good.
Worst: Damn, I Thought R-Truth Had This One
How great would it have been if R-Truth had beaten Bray Wyatt? Wyatt doesn’t care about wins and losses and rarely wins important stuff, so why not let Truth just go over him? Just once I want to see two guys get into a heated feud, only for one of them to lose to a nobody somewhere in the middle and make their opponent go “oh, well, nevermind.” R-Truth should be the living version of the Whammy from ‘Press Your Luck.’ Just a dude in a cape and a domino mask who shows up to scissor-kick you and kill your momentum.
Best: NOT THE CHAIR
STOP IT, ERICK ROWAN MADE ME THAT CHAIR WITH HIS BRAIN!
Here’s a question: Bray Wyatt has mysterious ghost powers and can teleport, right? When he realized Ambrose was about to bust up his sacred rocking chair, why didn’t he pop in there and stop it? Couldn’t he have made the lights go out or something, at least? Maybe cut the lights and teleport the chair away. I was gonna ask if the chair was the source of his teleportation powers, but we’ve seen Harper and Rowan teleport in by themselves. I need to know the limits and reasons for things, dammit. Yes, I was that kid who wondered why the Undertaker didn’t strike people with lightning during matches if he could do it with promos, and yes, I’m that grown adult who still wants Kane to knock somebody off the top rope with a pillar of fire mid-match. What’s it to you?
Worst: Good Matches Are Not Sexually Transmitted
This Divas feud is really circling the drain. They had some forced momentum going with Nikki Bella powering up, making Brie be her slave for a month and focusing her deadly energies on “real” Divas like Paige and AJ. That’s something. Then they forgot the Bellas were feuding, tossed Paige in the garbage and reverted AJ into an insecure loser. Now everybody’s the same flavor of milky evil, all the matches end in a minute and a half and nobody seems to have motivation. What’s the story, that heel Nikki Bella worked hard and is being insulted? Are we supposed to be siding with HER?
I think the Divas division is due for an NXT Redemption -> Full Sail transitional period. Instead of slowly working in characters like Big E and Seth Rollins on NXT, they said WELP, HERE’S A NEW THING and went with it. Old characters could still show up, but it was clearly a leveled playing field and a new batch of efforts and concepts. Just fire the guy you hate’s wife, move all the pretty ladies with varying wrestling skills to your reality show and plop Sara Del Rey’s students in the ring fresh. Is the crowd really going to react less to Alexa Bliss than they do to Rosa Mendes? At least one has the excuse of having not wrestled for a decade to explain their goose-shit greenness.
Best, But Also Worst: Remember Brock Lesnar?
Is he the one with the thing on his head? Sorry, that was Saba Simba. This guy sounds great too.
Worst: GOODNIGHT EVERYBODY, SEE YOU THIS SUNDAY AT SURVIVOR SERIES
The main event of the show was a six-man tag between Team Cena and Team Authority that goes for half an hour, ends with a roll-up everyone immediately forgets and transitions into some post-match brawling. This could be fun if it was building to Survivor Series, where these two teams fought in the most high-stakes situation possible. Now they’re just — dare I say it — wrestling for wrestling’s sake. THAT’S PRETTY BORING SOMETIMES, HUH.
The post-match stuff is frustrating. Big Show shows up to help Team Authority, which was sorta the opposite of what he was accomplishing last week but he’s a “bully” now, so go with it. Instead of just punching everybody in the face once he engages in some vague battle royal action, allowing Big Red (“IT’S BIG RED, KING! LOOK! BIG RED!”) to make the save from the back while CARRYING RING STEPS. Aren’t … aren’t ring steps by the ring? How did you get your own set of ring steps, and why are you carrying them 100 feet down a ramp instead of picking up the ones that are literally touching the ring?
I’ll excuse the 4-on-1 babyface gang attack because Show turned on them and stuck his nose in their business again tonight, but it didn’t do anything for me. Cena (no-selling the MESS out of a table bump that required a doctor’s attention earlier in the night) and his team stand hand-in-hand, triumphant over … the laptop? Did that even come up again? Is the laptop still in charge?
I don’t know. I’m sure this will all be explained next week, when Seth Green presents Show with the 2014 Slammy for “I CAN’T EVEN” Moment Of The Year.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
“You didn’t say the magic word.”
“Sorry, no, it was Jack.”
Cole: New Day is a group of 3 WWE superstars. But only 2 wrestlers can participate in this match.
JBL: WHADDA THEY GONNA DO, MAGGLE?
Cole: Well, they got together, and since there were five total men eligible for this match, and three of them on one team, they made a 3/5ths compromise.
Kevin Nash Booked This
Eric Rowan’s gimmick is “Glenn Jacobs”
I’m a borderline genius. Yet no one calls me Eric the genius.
I’m a classical guitar player. Yet no one calls me Rowan the guitarist.
I’m an award winning vintner. Yet no one calls me Eric the wine taster.
But you f*ck one sheep…
Tyson Kidd comes running out.
“Hey Miz! Can my wife have a business card? She can twerk too, probably!”
El Torito: How are things; I heard you are on a new show?
Mascarita Sagrada: It is great, it is a show that celebrates our heritage and places me on even footing with all the other luchadors in the company. The show is pushing the envelope creatively and in terms of production value too. How are things with you?
El Torito: At the worst I am playing an anthropomorphic bull who can’t control his labido, and at the best I am treated as a mute who is locked in a blood feud with a Alligator-Furry with the athletic ability of sentient donut.
If Nikki keeps improving like she has been, she’ll find herself in a Cena feud and that’ll be the end of her career.
Who is this guy? And what is the WWE World Heavyweight Championship?
Cena was disappointed he only had 3 guys to bury, so he just went off the top rope to bury his teammates, too.
I was hoping it would come back from commercial to show everyone except Ryback on the ground, clutching injured limbs.
“I’m a dumb f*ck, I’m sorry”
Thanks, all. See you next week.