– For some reason the IWC got together to pretend like Raw was canceled due to weather and had to shoot a clip-show with some interviews at WWE HQ in Stamford. I don’t know where this stupid rumor started. My USA Network showed a new episode as planned, so that’s what I’m writing about here. None of it’s made up, I promise. It’s not five pages of the Assumptive Smackdown Spoilers report.
– Do not vote for With Spandex for Best Wrestling Media in this year’s RSPW Awards. Don’t make me happy by voting for Inspire Pro in Best Promotion or me vs. Lance Hoyt in Best Feud, either. Do not follow us on Twitter. Don’t follow me, either.
– Do not share the column Do not click “tweet” or “like.”
Do not click through for the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for January 26, 2015.
Worst: Ugh, John Cena Again!
This week’s episode starts with John Cena greeting the Hartford crowd and noticing that they’re “hot tonight!” He explains that some of the people in Hartford like him and some of them don’t, and how that’s okay because they’re passionate, and when they buy a ticket to a WWE Live Event they earn the right to boo or cheer whomever they want. He took a mental note of who was booing and made sure whoever’s on their shirt never wrestles in this town again.
He was interrupted by Paul Heyman, who tells the crowd his name and occupation. He chides John Cena for not getting the job done at Royal Rumble, and Cena frowns for a second and then smirks and says Heyman’s a fat bitch, and the crowd cheers. Whew, thought he was gonna look like a pussy for a second! That brings out Seth Rollins, who is upset that of all the people who didn’t get the job done, he didn’t get the job done most. He talks through his nose for six minutes without taking a breath. That, of course, brings out Roman Reigns. Roman has a copy of Finnegans Wake in his hands and says, “I’m gonna read you a passage from Finnegans Wake. On second thought? Nah. Imma punch you in the mouth!” He then knee-slides toward the hard cam and does the Kevin fist-pump from Home Alone.
That brings out Los Matadores. Los Matadores say they didn’t get the job done more than ANYONE because they weren’t even on the show, and say they deserve a 2-on-1 WWE World Heavyweight Championship title shot. Who knows how to kill in predetermined fights more than a matador? Things are getting chaotic now, so that brings out The Authority. All of them. Even the production guys we never see. There are like 60 people on stage. Triple H makes a literal wanking motion and says that everybody in the ring’s garbage, and it doesn’t go anywhere. He just thinks they’re garbage. Stephanie asks John Cena if he realizes the childish mayhem he causes wherever he goes, and he says Stephanie has “tig ol’ cow bitties!” Michael Cole chuckles and announces “tig ol cow bitties” is trending worldwide.
As punishment, Stephanie puts Cena into a match: in the main-event it’ll be John Cena vs. Seth Rollins … and Kane! AND The Big Show. And Roman Reigns! And Los Matadores. And Paul Heyman. And Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury. And Mordecai, Kevin Thorn’s anti-Undertaker character from before he was a vampire. If John can last at least two seconds without being pinned, he’ll take Roman Reigns’ spot in the main event of WrestleMania and be given full creative control of the program. But only if the WWE Universe says this match idea’s okay in a WWE App poll.
Do you think John Cena should get this opportunity?
A. yes, John Cena should get this opportunity
B. yes, John Cena should get this opportunity and we should all get free slices of chocolate cake
C. yes, John Cena should definitely get this opportunity
The opening segment ends at 8:44.
Best: Finally, Rob Bartlett Makes The Hall Of Fame
Macho Man Randy Savage is being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year, so it only makes sense that his legendary broadcast colleague would also get the nod. RAW ORIGINAL Rob Bartlett will also be going in, and if you millennials don’t know who he is, maybe you should read a Wikipedia page every now and then.
Bartlett was part of the show’s original announce team and his signature style was wearing sunglasses and chewing gum, making it impossible for him see what was happening or clearly talk about it. His was the prototype for Dennis Miller on Monday Night Football — a brash New York comedian who refuses to do research and has no love for the product, but still has to get all shit in. Leave the memories alone.
Bartlett will be inducted by Doink the Clown, who once gave him a tiny pie to distract him before hitting him in the face with a regular-sized pie.
Worst: You Need To Read Several Paragraphs From Me About RACISM
Backstage, The New Day is upset about Los Matadores getting an opportunity in tonight’s main-event. Woods says that The New Day has worked HARD and stayed POSITIVE and now Los Matadores and El Torito are getting their spots. He calls El Torito 3/5th of a man, which is a joke I don’t get. Probably insider terms. Kofi says that things have gotten so bad he couldn’t even get a cool Royal Rumble elimination spot, and got his butt touched by a man dressed like french fries. Big E shook his head solemnly remembering when HE was the can’t-miss prospect from NXT and a future World Heavyweight Champion. “Remember when I did the five count? It was in my song for a while.” Woods and Kingston touched him on the shoulder as he began to shed manly tears of disappointment.
Joey Mercury walked by and The New Day started smiling and clapping and singing songs. Mercury told them they’d be in a six-man “scramble for your dignity” match later in the night. It’s now 8:52 and we still haven’t had a match.
Best: Try Delicious Popeye’s® Brand Food
Have you ever tried a ghost pepper? They’re the souls of dead peppers. By eating them you prevent them from moving on to the afterlife. Love that chicken from Popeye’s®!
Worst: Wade Barrett Loses To A Pile Of Laundry
At 8:58 we get our first match of the night: Bad News Barrett defending nothing in a non-title match against a pile of laundry. “Rumorz” say this was supposed to be Jack Swagger, but he was brutally injured by a grammarian at Sunday’s Rumble. Anyway, somebody put a bunch of dirty clothes in the ring and Barrett smugly stomped it for a few seconds. Suddenly DOLPH ZIGGLER’S music played and everybody popped, and Barrett spun around to see what was happening. He then just kinda rolled backwards over the pile of laundry with his legs in the air like a dog and the ref counted three, giving the upset victory to an inanimate mound of fabric. Barrett was upset after the match as refs hastily shoved the clothes to the floor and rolled them up the ramp in a ball. Backwards. Dolph Ziggler never actually appears.
This took about 35 seconds, with commercial break.
Best: STING WILL BE HERE (If He Can Figure Out How To Get In The Building)
We jump to a shot of the parking lot, where Sting is pulling up in a white hummer. According to the announce team, Sting is being allowed in the building to answer Triple H’s challenge for a face-to-face confrontation at Fast Lane, but only if he can figure out how to work the back door. Nobody will be around to help him. Sting stares up at the stars as we jump to commercial.
Worst: Natalya Gets A Divas Championship Shot
Our next match is Natalya vs. Paige for the Divas Championship, which is hilarious because neither of them is Divas Champion. The announce team says Paige is. Booker asks when the title changed hands, and JBL shouts him down for being “a nerd in [his] parents’ basement.” It’s just wrestling. Shut up and enjoy the show or watch something else!
Anyway, the match is really great for about 15 seconds before the Bella Twins join commentary. Paige and Natalya are both visibly upset, but the match continues. Nikki puts on a headset and says “wha-” before immediately throwing off the headset, sliding into the ring and laying out Natalya with a standing forearm. Natalya is literally dead. The referee stared at Nikki the entire time and made the “watch the closed fist” gesture with his hands, but no DQ is called. Cole says he didn’t see it. Paige goes for an arrogant cover, but a legit unconscious Natalya surprises her with a rollup for three.
Cole puts over Natalya’s “gutsy” victory but notes that the title can’t change hands on a pinfall. Booker says “wait, what” and JBL tells him to stop being such a blogger.
Worst: Sting’s Having Some Problems
Backstage, Renee Young’s by the back door with a microphone. Sting can’t figure out how to work the handle. “YOU HAVE TO PULL IT,” she yells. She tells him to stop pushing it, but now he’s leaning into it with his shoulder. “STOP PUSHING THE DOOR, STING.” Sting throws up his hands as we go to commercial.
Best: I Still Like Renee’s Haircut A Lot
Tired of yelling through a metal door, Renee wanders around until she finds John Cena, who is pacing in front of a monitor awaiting the results of the Raw Active poll. The only way you can find out is via giant screen. Cena says The Authority has a butt where they’re face is supposed to be and a face on their butt, so when they poop it comes out of their mouths. He then says they eat the mouth poop, which replenishes their poop reservoir and allows them to keep “spouting the same crap week in and week out.” He calls Kane an “ear fart” (in a pretty obvious breaking of the previously established metaphor) and promises to win tonight.
A. yes, John Cena should get this opportunity – 2%
B. yes, John Cena should get this opportunity and we should all get free slices of chocolate cake – 87%
C. yes, John Cena should definitely get this opportunity – 11%
Sigh. Always some haters out there. Cena gets his shot HERE TONIGHT!
Best: Popeye’s® Louisiana Fast™ Chicken Is Available At Stores Nationwide
This commercial highlights how much joy Popeye’s® gets from cutting and ripping breasts! They’re like Freddy Krueger, but for food. They will haunt these chickens’ nightmares and gut them. Love that chicken from Popeye’s®!
Best: Finally, A Guest Host Who Matters
Remember at the Royal Rumble when Jerry Lawler said Seth Rollins smashed Brock Lesnar’s head “like a watermelon at a Gallagher concert?” Remember how specifically dated that sounded? “Like Gallagher smashing a watermelon” would’ve been dated enough, but “a Gallagher concert” is a special old man phrasing. Anyway, turns out that was just foreshadowing for Shoot Gallagher to show up and host Monday Night Raw, which he does here.
By host, of course, I mean he gets intro’d by a smiling Jerry Lawler and does a full 30-minute set, featuring 25 minutes of borderline (and directly) racist jokes about immigrants and “the blacks,” and a bunch of improvised rants about how he’s created a bunch of patents and everybody else is stupid. There are no actual jokes beyond him saying mean shit he actually thinks. Then he spends five minutes ruining food with a hammer. Gallagher has had a 30+ year career.
The crowd boos about 29 1/2 minutes of it, but the announce team chuckles a lot and Vince McMahon sits in an office with a dinosaur skull on the wall, belly-laughing and patting his belly like he’s Santa Claus.
Best: The Scramble For Your Dignity Match
There is no correlation in a match full of black wrestlers following a watermelon-themed comedian. Stop looking for things to be mad about! It’s just wrestling. If Vince McMahon waltzes out onto the stage in a doo-rag and says the N-word it’s just wrestling, and not an extremely wealthy white man from North Carolina running a deeply racist corporation that largely appeals to poor white people!
Anyway, there were so many black athletes teaming up and fighting each other exclusively I thought I was watching Ring Of Honor! It was Kofi Kingston vs. Big E vs. Xavier Woods vs. R-Truth vs. Titus O’Neil vs. a returning-without-the-bunny-suit Darren Young, and they all busted their asses and showed what great performers they are in the three minutes they were allowed. Two of those minutes were R-Truth in the ring rapping the entirety of ‘C’mon N’ Ride It (The Train)’ by Quad City DJs, but it was still good.
Big E hit the Big Ending on Titus for the win. After the match, it was revealed that the winner received absolutely nothing. Everyone backstage laughed. The New Day clapped their hands and smiled and stayed positive while saying the nastiest shit you’ve ever heard under their breath.
Best/Worst: The ToePackage Lex Luger
Back in the parking lot, THE VIGILANTE STING is now kicking the door handle. He’s scared when he’s approached by what he thinks is a spooky skeleton, but it turns out to be his best friend Lex Luger. Sting and Luger hug, and Luger says he’s been to Raw PLENTY of times and knows how the door works. Sting trusts him and appreciates his help.
When they get to the door, Luger tries pushing it and says “wow, it won’t open. Give it a push, Stinger!” Sting says “SURE LEX” and leans into push it, so Luger quickly pulls it and smashes him in the face, knocking him out. Luger does shifty eyes and trots away into the darkness. Slow pan on Sting’s cold, dumb face.
Worst: The Lightning Round
The next 20 minutes of Raw features 3 matches and 6 commercial breaks. I don’t want to recap them all because I have better things to do and my mom wants me to clean up this basement, so here’s a quick rundown.
1. The Usos defeated Goldust and Stardust. I think this is the first time these teams have fought. The Usos did a lot of kicking and punching, followed by some low-elevation dives. Goldust and Stardust are still best friends and nobody mentions them being at each others’ throats in the Rumble. The Usos win when Jimmy hits an armdrag and follows it up with a surprise rollup for three.
2. Jack Swagger defeated Cesaro. Turns out the Internet rumor machine was wrong! Thanks for nothing, IWC! Maybe you guys should just watch the shows and shut up and enjoy them instead of pretending to be so-called “journalists.” Swagger won with an ankle lock after Cesaro opened the match by lifting his foot and pointing at it, saying “put me in the ankle lock.” After the match, Swagger surprised Cesaro with a rollup and pinned him a second time. The ref counted it and rang the bell and everything. This might’ve been a 2-out-of-3 falls match, or it might’ve just been super sad.
3. Rusev defeated Fandango. Both men got a jobber entrance. The announcers put over Fandango as an American hero because dancing was invented in America. Rusev locked Fandango in The Accolade, then turned it into a surprise rollup and held the tights to get a cheap victory. As he was celebrating and walking to the back, JBL said Rusev lost by countout. The other announcers agreed.
Worst: You Fool! Consume Popeye’s® Louisiana Fast™ Chicken Immediately Or Be Damned For Eternity
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The great crises and upsets of national life show who the true men and women are. We have no right any longer to speak of the weaker chicken, for all restaurants are displaying the same determination and spiritual strength. The nation is ready for anything. The Popeye’s® lady has commanded, and we will follow her. In this hour of national reflection and contemplation, we believe firmly and unshakably in Louisiana Fast™ Chicken. We see it before us, we need only reach for it. We must resolve to subordinate everything to it. That is the duty of the hour. Let the slogan be:
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Best: The Best Match You’ll See This Month
In case you missed it, Curtis Axel was never eliminated from the Royal Rumble. Erick Rowan jumped him from behind, tossed him aside and took his spot. Some people say that means he’s technically the winner of the Rumble — Axel included — but many claim there’s an unwritten rule that if you don’t get in the ring before the next guy enters, you’re eliminated. That’s why Spike Dudley’s not a former Rumble winner. At the same time, Stone Cold came in at #27 in 2001 and never got into the ring because of Triple H and #28 (Billy Gunn) entered before him with no elimination, so there’s precedent both ways. Because wrestling is fake and nobody pays attention to the rules.
Curtis Axel wants his title shot. He found Renee Young backstage and tried to ask her about it, but he’s Curtis Axel so she ignored him. Frustrated, he approached the announce team. When they just made fun of him, he stole a microphone and climbed into the ring to plead his case. He’s been dreaming of a WrestleMania shot (a real one) since he was born into this business 35 years ago. He’s not a charismatic superstar or an unstoppable monster, he just wants his fair shot, and to not be jumped from behind by cultist lamb guys. Security hits the ring to remove him as Brock Lesnar’s music hits, and Lesnar and Heyman appear at the top of the ramp. Heyman reminds the crowd of his connection to Axel and says he knows what a pathetic loser Axel is. If he wants Brock Lesnar to make an example of him, Brock Lesnar will make an example of him.
So the match is on. Nobody expects it to be anything but a Curtis Axel-scented smear on the mat, but Axel takes the fight to Lesnar and dives onto him on the outside before the bell rings, spilling security everywhere. They brawl around the ring with Axel sticking and moving, diving out of the way of a charge that sends Lesnar into the ring post, then diving out of the way and sending Lesnar into the steps. It’s like fighting Bane in the Batman video games. Once they take it into the ring, the crowd’s starting to feel it. Axel has no hope of stopping this guy, but his heart’s on fire and his fists are moving, and he can’t stop now. He hits the ropes for a kick and gets scooped up in an F-5 that takes the audience’s breath away, but he escapes it and hits a neckbreaker for a two count. TWO. Against THE BEAST. Curtis Axel is here, god dammit, and he’s not lying down.
Unfortunately, he’s also made the beast mad. Lesnar tackles him to the ground and starts punching, and now it’s not about “making an example,” it’s about ending someone who tried to show him up. Making amends for embarrassment. Soon Axel’s face is a bloody mess and the referee wants to stop it, but Axel grabs him by the leg and begs him not to. Lesnar continues the assault. Even Paul Heyman’s starting to wonder what they’ve gotten themselves into, and asks the commentary team what happens if a performer actually physically dies on live television.
We won’t find out tonight. Axel’s not dying.
He can barely stand, but Lesnar’s running out of steam. Turning purple. Axel stops feeling pain for one brief, beautiful moment and unleashes a fury of punches that light up the crowd. AX-EL, AX-EL, AX-EL they chant. JBL can’t believe it. Michael Cole says we could be seeing the birth of a superstar, or the death of a nobody. Axel goes for the Perfect Plex and lights flare, but Lesnar breaks out of it. Another F-5, but NO, Axel floats behind, boots the stomach, PERFECT PLEX. Picture f*cking perfect. Lesnar kicks out at one. The crowd knows it’s over … but Axel doesn’t. He hits a McGillicutter before Lesnar can get to his feet and gets TWO. One more. Almost there. You’re almost there.
Gasping for air and covered in blood, Axel crosses himself and goes for another Perfect Plex. As he plants his feet, Lesnar’s head slips out. The grip wasn’t tight enough. Axel’s too tired. A moment later he’s locked in the Kimura, and The Beast won’t let go. Axel reaches for the ropes, refusing to give up. Refusing to tap. An infuriated Lesnar lets out an alien scream and contorts, snapping Axel’s arm. A guttural howl from Axel … but he still doesn’t tap. Lesnar doesn’t know what to do. He releases the hold, pounding Lesnar in the back of the head with stiff punches, then scoops him up and hits an F-5 in the middle of the ring. He covers, 1, 2, 3.
Curtis Axel lies in the center of the ring unconscious, resting in a pool of his own blood, his arm limp and motionless. Lesnar stands over him with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, but never gives him a moment of respect. He leaves the ring without ever looking back, but you can see something in his eyes. He’s still not the right color. He’s sweating profusely. He doesn’t look like he knows what happened. Moreso than usual.
And still, Curtis Axel lies in the center of the ring.
He didn’t get a shot in the Royal Rumble. He didn’t know he’d be facing the WWE World Heavyweight Champion tonight, and he didn’t know if he could hang. But what he did is what we all have to do … believe. We’re all Curtis Axel in a way. We might be privileged in some aspects of our life or be good at certain things, good enough to make a living from them, but not many of us are special. Not “once in a lifetime” performers. We’re just dumb, regular people who might be from Minnesota and might like ice fishing, and might not ever be as good as our dads. Maybe he was gone all the time and we never knew him. Maybe we don’t want to use his last name. We just want to do our own thing, pave our own path, and be remembered for what WE can do, not for the bigger picture we’re a part of. We want to matter. Some of us never will.
I don’t know if this is the start of something for Curtis Axel or if he’ll be out for months with a broken arm, but I’m happy he got this shot. You’ve got three hours every week to fill with pro wrestling, and you’re in charge of most of the best wrestlers in the world. If you just take 15 minutes one week and truly embrace the creativity of the art and the value of the people literally and figuratively killing themselves for you, you can make them all special. Maybe not permanently, maybe not to everyone, but once, and to someone.
Thank you for this match. I never knew I needed it.
Worst: in main event john cena win
he do it, odds overcame
ba badda baaaaaa
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
Russell Wilson’s Dick
a short script I wrote about what characters might actually be saying to one another backstage
remember how Jerry Lawler’s a pedophile?
a slightly reworded joke from a Best and Worst column from three weeks ago that nobody remembered, so they +1’d it
Morgan Webb Nude
Roman Reigns is so bad at promos he makes bad thing seem like much better thing
did you forget to use Dean Ambrose? You did, didn’t you. You got to the top 10 comments part and realized it, but now you don’t have somewhere to go back in and add him.
hey, check out this thing I wrote on Cageside, it’s probably fine to link it here
Bring Back Matt
old cartoon reference
Wait, did any of this actually happen?
Thanks, everybody. See you next week, unless the mental hospital gets rid of their WiFi.
Love that chicken from Popeye’s®.
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