– Make sure you’ve read the Best and Worst of WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders, Chairs, Stairs, Guardrails, Hairspray and Exploding Televisions before reading. It’s important, probably.
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Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for December 15, 2014
Worst: Cool Dad
Raw’s mostly been a repeat lately, so this week is going to feature a lot of repeated talking points. I apologize in advance to regular readers, and promise to augment it with plenty of slightly reworded jokes.
Babyface Chris Jericho is one of the worst characters in WWE history. They took a guy who more or less created the Popular Ironic Heel type — see also Bo Dallas, The Vaudevillains and basically anybody who cheats and gets cheered on NXT — by walking the thin line between Serious Competitor and Total Bullshit. His Conspiracy Victim WCW character is my undisputed favorite wrestling character of all time, and Best In The World At What I Do grumpy suit-wearing Jericho is close behind him. As a heel, he subverts and reinvents the genre, and he does it better than anyone else. As a face, he absolutely burns everything to the ground in favor of being a 3-year old Rock n’ Roll Dad who screams funny words and farts until photoshops appear. The difference in quality and effort between the two is staggering, and wrestling’s greatest indictment of its audience. WWE says that to be one of the WWE Universe, you have to be a sassy asshole with no education, no social skills and an inferiority complex. It’s the same difference between heel Rock and face Rock, and why that guy bothers me so much. I just hate to see people giving up, and being celebrated for it. I want my heroes to be better than me. I don’t want them to be me.
Long story short, the opening to Raw was another 20 minute conversation where everyone on the show argued with everyone else, and matches were made. I’m not sure why John Cena thought it’d be a good idea to remove the show’s bosses and replace them with a roulette of random people with no goals or ambitions. Why try hard to be a good general manager if you know you’ll be gone next week? You’re just Randy Orton booking yourself into a lingerie fashion show. Jericho’s fashion show is “beating up a 49-year old non-wrestler for a reason he just made up.”
Additional note: there is nothing worse in wrestling than the announce team chuckling at Jericho’s “funny” alternate names for Fandango.
Worst: The Same Old WWE App Vote Problem
The worst part is that he then allows YOU, THE WWE UNIVERSE to decided the stipulation for his Unsanctioned Civilian Beating. Here are the choices. Try not to notice how Jericho’s chest looks like Heyman’s face:
If those choices bother you, welcome to the club. WWE’s only got two kinds of app votes: the one where A and B are terrible options nobody’d pick so everyone’ll pick C, or the one where A B and C are the same. Extreme Rules, No Holds Barred and Street Fight aren’t even TRYING to look different. It’s so bad even WWE employees called it out.
The worst part of that is that the match doesn’t even happen. Spoiler alert, Heyman summons Brock Lesnar to destroy Jericho and it’s a no contest. If you knew that was the case — and you are a scripted television show, so you did — why not have fun with it? Why not have it be (A) INFERNO MATCH (B) TRIPLE CAGE MATCH (C) TAI PEI DEATH MATCH? At least that would’ve made the bait and switch entertaining. Imagine how much better Heyman begging for his life would’ve been if the ref had been wrapping his hands and dipping them in glass. Imagine how much better Brock mauling Jericho would’ve been if he’d F-5’d him into FIRE.
Worst: Welcome Back Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler
Dolph Ziggler won the cursed Intercontinental Championship at TLC. On the next Raw, he loses. The IC champion losing all the time has gotten so f*cking ridiculous they need to just embrace it and turn it into a story. Have guys purposefully lose IC title matches so they won’t have to carry the belt. Have IC title matches be punishments heel GMs hand out. Maybe have Renee Young go to Rio and venture into some ancient cave to find out where the curse comes from. Put that shit on WWE Network, I’d watch it. Give Dean Ambrose a bull whip and a fedora and have him save her from angry natives with blow guns.
But yeah, Ziggler loses and isn’t involved in the pinfall. I’m not gonna cry BURY or whatever, but it continues to be unfortunate how important he seems on pay-per-views and how much of an afterthought he is on weekly shows. The crowd likes him and he’s good at what he does. Maybe Roman can look strong losing tags to Show and Dolph can try winning matches and cutting promos?
Worst: Kofi Drops Bars
Because The New Day is not about how these guys are black, Kofi Kingston’s rapping now. Because he’s the worst, he’s not even actually rapping, he’s aping a 3-year old YouTube rap battle parody series. I know Grumpy Cat just hosted the show and we’re in love with The Internet but Jesus Christ, try a little harder, guys. What, is Adrian Neville gonna get called up to raw with a Charlie Bit My Finger gimmick?
Best: WE’RE DUMB AND FROM THE ’80S AND WE’RE COMING FOR YOU
In case you missed Smackdown, The Ascension are now the Road Warriors. Just straight up the Road Warriors. They paint their faces, wear big shoulder pads, smack each other in the chest during promos and “dine upon destruction.” It’s your friend who doesn’t like wrestling’s idea of what a wrestler does. Lots of mohawks and makeup and screaming.
I don’t know if they’ll ever be a thing, but I could dig them as Developmental Demolition. Devolition?
Worst: Another In A Long List Of Examples Of Why Lana And Rusev Justifiably Hate America
The entitled white guy you know who says you should stop complaining so much thinks this segment was hilarious, so let’s pat that guy on the back and talk amongst ourselves.
Jericho brings out Lana and Rusev to make fun of them. That’s it. There’s not a point or a goal to the segment, he just asks them to stand in the ring in front of his talk show set so he can run them down. He makes fun of Lana’s clothes, and he doesn’t even get it right. He says she wears pantsuits, which she doesn’t. She wear suits. Women’s suits have skirts. Pantsuits have pants, which is why they’re called f*cking “pantsuits.” He also says they’re either red, white or blue, but sometimes they’re pink or black. Anyway, he also calls her a ring rat and sings the “Sittin’ in a Tree” song because he’s a shithead kindergartner. He calls Rusev an “unwashed cab driver,” which is even worse. That’s just making fun of how he’s stinky and not his ethnicity, right?
So like always, Lana and Rusev are forced to stand up for themselves. Jericho’s all HEH WHY DON’T YOU GUYS LIKE AMERICA, and everybody with a brain goes because of shit like this, dude. Rusev stands up to the bully, and the bully brings out Ryback to start a fight. So Jericho The Beloved Babyface has lured Lana and Rusev out here under false pretenses, embarrassed them in public, pissed them off until they’re ready to fight and then backs down to let a bigger guy fight his battles. And this guy is the face because what, he’s popular? He’s a white American (slash Canadian) male? Cool. Glad to be a part of that endless circle-jerk.
Worst: The Total Divas, And Jerry Lawler’s Logic
This week’s “we’re still wrestlers, we promise” Total Divas tag put the Bella Twins against Natalya and Alicia Fox. Remember a month ago when Brie Bella was a face and Naomi was a heel, and they just switched without ever explaining it? Me either. Natalya taps out Brie to the Sharpshooter, because wrestling for the sake of wrestling.
Jerry Lawler complains that Tyson Kidd shouldn’t hog the spotlight when Natalya wins matches. When Natalya wins, Tyson goes to check on Brie, because I guess they’re doing a super fresh jealousy angle. Lawler asks, “why isn’t Tyson celebrating with his wife?” What do you want him to do, exactly?
Worst: The Midnight Hour
The worst commentary of the night belongs to JBL, who gets himself and Lawler into an extremely uncomfortable conversation about black hair. JBL’s all IS HIS HAIR S’POST TA LOOK LIKE THAT and is like five seconds from asking if he can touch it, and poor “positive” Kofi has to sit there smiling and nodding and prepping fancy handshakes. The very saddest part of The New Day is that no matter how bad it gets, these guys have to grit their teeth and jive on command so they can stay employed. They should have SMILE AND COLLECT A PAYCHECK airbrushed on their church tights.
Their finish is called “The Midnight Hour,” which is also totally not a reference to them being black. It’s about TIME JARGON. Although technically the midnight hour is when the day is over, so that’s what they should call whichever move beats them. Yes, I am a dork.
I’d also like to point out how sad the treatment of the Rhodes brothers continues to be. Dustin was tearing it up with Randy Orton and The Shield when he first returned, and now he’s jobbing out to Xavier Woods. Cody’s done whatever WWE’s asked him to do since he got there, and he’s excelled at every imaginable role, so I guess now he’s a hissing crayon that can’t beat the worst guy on the show. Get hot about Cesaro all you want, but Gold and Stardust should be right beside him in your brain.
Best: STOP BURYING REIGNS
That narrowly edged out “NXT IS BETTER” for sign of the night. Your sign game is on point, Detroit.
Best: The NXT/Chikara Shared Universe Theory Reconfirmed
One of my most enduring theories is that NXT and Chikara exist in the same universe. There’s a lot to it, but it involves Brodie Lee becoming Luke Harper, Bray Wyatt’s mysterious cult and a dimension-hopping Swamp Monster. There’s a lot to it.
WWE renewed that theory last night by having Jimmy Jacobs show up as one of the Rosebuds. Not only does that further connect NXT and Chikara (remembering that Rose and the Rosebuds are an NXT creation), but it explains Jacobs’ connection to The Flood. Why was Jimmy Jacobs suddenly in charge of a thousand independent wrestlers with goofy gimmicks like plague doctors and evil male nurses and ants? Because he’s a Rosebud. What group consistently features more independent wrestlers in wacky costumes? I think it has something to do with Rose and his intimate knowledge of how the Oculus mirror works.
One day we’ll find out referee Dan Engler is Mike Quackenbush and the entire thing’ll explode.
Best: Kane Has Pretty Much Tombstoned Everything
I actually really enjoyed Kane vs. Adam Rose, because it’s a good use of approaching-2015 Kane. The guy shouldn’t be wrestling chairs matches against Ryback on pay-per-view, he should be showing up in legends spots to scare somebody, tombstone them and make fire happen. That’s it. If a guy’s feuding with a bunny, the payoff should be Kane showing up and double chokeslamming them. Adam Rose’s role should be “guy who gets local wrestlers onto Raw and doesn’t take up too much of our time.”
Best: Chris Jericho Gets What He Deserves
This justified the entire show for me, and brought it up from “exhausting chore” to “thing I’m excited to tell you about.”
Jericho gets his match with Heyman and the App says it’s a Street Fight. Sadly, Paul Heyman does not wrestle in jeans. Jericho says he wants the match because Heyman owes him $200 from his ECW days, but when Heyman attempts to make it square and pay up, Jericho knocks it out of his hand. He’s writing a check and the announcers do the HEH THAT’LL BOUNCE gag, but Heyman is a rich guy who manages the WWE World Heavyweight Champion now and isn’t a 20-something WCW manager trying to fund a wrestling promotion in the 90s anymore, so …
Anyway, Jericho’s all NO YOU HAVE TO FIGHT ME, so Heyman’s all LOL BROCK LESNAR’S HERE AND YOU’RE GONNA DIE.
Brock Lesnar shows up and calmly walks to the ring without the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, because he doesn’t need a decorative belt to beat somebody’s ass. Jericho tries to throw hands, but Brock no-sells everything, shoves him to the ground when he tires a Codebreaker and just drags him up by his head into an F-5. It is GLORIOUS. The look on Jericho’s face when he realizes his hopping knee-fall can’t hurt the goddamn Beast Con Carne is worth sitting through a dozen casually-offensive babyface promos. He is so f*cked and he KNOWS IT.
Hey Jericho, next time you host Raw maybe try being nice to people, ya goober.
Best, I Guess: Roman Reigns Still Looks Really Strong
Fandango shows up to taunt Chris Jericho and that for some reason summons Roman Reigns. All I can think of is how convenient it is for Roman to show up when Fandango’s in the ring and not Brock. I guess that game of laser tag ran a little long, huh Roman. So yeah, Reigns shows up and punches Fandango, and we briefly remember how effective Roman Reigns is when he just hops a guardrail and plows through dudes. Love him or hate him, it’s infinitely better than watching him try to remember a complete sentence.
Sigh: Roman Reigns Still STILL Looks Really Strong
Unfortunately that’s not the end of it.
Roman grabs a microphone and BLUE STEELS the camera for a while, and as soon as he opens his mouth, Big Show’s music interrupts. Show walks out and cuts this weirdly colloquial threatening promo that’s like, “AY DOG KEEP RUNNIN YA MOUTH AN I’MMA COME DOWN THERE AND KNOCK YOU OUT, NAHMEAN.” Roman says that if Show comes to the ring he’ll punch him, which is the most complex thing Roman Reigns should ever say. You could probably train a beautiful dog to bark that sentence. Show tries anyway, Roman punches him in the face, and that’s the end of it. Show briefly tries to throw the dreaded 87 POUND STAIR HALF (as he’s now the master of the Stairs Match), but nothing comes of it.
I really, really hope the Show/Roman feud is to give Roman someone important and giant to eliminate in the Royal Rumble, and isn’t building to a singles match. The last thing I want to see in my life is Show slapping Roman in his fishing vest and Roman pretending it hurt.
Best: Everything About The Miz vs. Jimmy Uso Besides The Finish
Surprisingly, my favorite match of the show was The Miz vs. Jimmy Uso. It got a little time, was competently wrestled and it actually has a STORY. It’s not a great story, but it’s a story, and that’s more than most mid-card feuds ever get. The Usos/Dusts feud was based solely on “you were mean one night.” Mizdow’s always funny, and it’s brilliant when he picks his spots correctly. You don’t want to highlight the mimicry when Miz is trying to do something important, you want to play it up when he’s in a rest hold or transitioning. That’s key. If you can keep the crowd interested in two concurrent things and play them in cooperation with one another, you can sustain a reaction that a Miz match might (read: wouldn’t) normally get. There’s even a moment when Mizdow’s doing something wacky and Miz just pushes him out of the way and makes him stop, because he’s interfering with the match. That’s a new wrinkle.
One problem, though.
Worst: The Finish
Jey Uso hits Miz when the referee isn’t looking, allowing Jimmy to hit a splash and get the pin. The babyfaces are just outright cheating to win and nobody seems to care. If they’re smart, they’re making this part of the story. Miz has legitimate Hollywood connections. They aren’t spectacular, but they’re legit. He’s been in actual movies and TV shows. If he likes Naomi, he can get her a few opportunities. Jimmy Uso is controlling and jealous, and a story that should be “heel tries to f*ck with the face’s wife to make him mad” has played more like “guy is mad that his wife is succeeding and must stop it at all costs.”
If Mizdow is as popular as he is, he can anchor the team’s worth and turn it into a Steen/Generico situation where a face and a heel are best friends and get good/bad reactions simultaneously. The crowd knows it’s all in good fun and part of the act. So if the Usos are cheating to win and being bad dudes backstage, why not double turn the teams? Let the fans who already want to celebrate and embrace Mizdow do so without breaking them up and feuding them, and let Miz come along as the fulcrum that makes Mizdow work. Let the fans who are kinda tired of the Usos’ shit boo them for it, and actively notice/react negatively when they’re being scumbag babyfaces.
Best: Brock Lesnar Saves Another John Cena Gimmick Match Victory
Brock Lesnar is two for two in making bad segments good. That’s why he’s the only wrestler that matters, and can hold the game’s top championship without defending it for six months and nobody can call him on it.
Cena’s wrestling Rollins in the cage, and it’s good, but it’s that same Cena thing where the drama’s built around an unnecessary piling on of odds. In theory, Cena being in a cage with a guy good enough to win Money in the Bank should be enough. They should be on relatively even ground. Cena’s more proven, sure, but Rollins is already acclaimed and clearly very good in the ring. Instead, Cena’s trouncing Rollins and having to deal with Joey Mercury and Jamie Noble at ringside, who are also easily trounced. So it’s 3-on-1 with swinging cage doors and weapons, and the only reason he loses is because TWO ADDITIONAL GUYS show up to make it 5-on-1.
That’s frustrating, but the end-result isn’t. Brock isn’t a demonic choir child singing church hymns, he’s the f*cking destroyer and he’s just gonna German suplex John until he can’t move. Heyman offers a hand to Rollins instead of sending Brock after him, which makes a lot of sense — Rollins needs an authority figure to tell him what to do, and Heyman needs some in-house security who’ll back him up when Brock’s not around. They also both have Authority connections, and them being on the same side’ll give us lots of “when’s Rollins gonna sell him out” fantasy booking scenarios. Could they actually get us to CHEER Rollins swerving somebody after the post-Shield agony we’ve endured?
I’m really glad Rollins added that final Curb Stomp, because the entire time Cena was lying there stirring I thought he was gonna pop up, Attitude Adjust everyone in a 10-foot radius and dive through the door. I just wish Rollins had pinned him. Wasn’t that the point of the opening segment, Cena saying Rollins couldn’t pin him? Is he ever gonna have an easier opportunity?
Best: J&J Security
Mercury and Noble are so awesome. Rolling taking his sweet time leaving the cage was hilarious, even more so with J&J clapping and reassuring him the entire way. ONE MORE STEP, YOU CAN DO IT! Bad guys should never not have stooges.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
you know what would be awesome, if the crowd counted during the entire opening segment like a baron corbin match
Redshirt the Disgruntled Bengals Fan
Cena: I lost. I lost? Wait a minute, that’s not right? Let me see the script. I knew it! I get another shot!
Referee: He does?
(everyone pulls out the TLC…S script)
WWE TLC Open Discussion Thread: Yes. Yes. He does.
Vote on how long RAW should be!
A.) 3 hours
B.) 180 minutes
They really are so positive!!! Unlike the bad ones.
The gorgeous young woman is getting style criticism from a 40+ man who is wearing a vest, deep v, scarf and a haircut that would make Red Rooster Terry Taylor say, “Gurl please.”
We should start a pro-Rusev movement called “Smarx”
Jerry Lawler: “Maybe we should explain some of the differences in these matches…”
*panics when he realizes they’re all the same*
“…but first, let’s talk about last night!”
It’s your sled Kane. Go on, be a rosebud.
What if the bunny is Adam Rose’s Uncle? Pete.
RAW should have ended with J&J security frozen at mid jump.
Thanks, everybody. See you next week.