– I’m afraid I’ve got some BAD NEWS. If you don’t share this column, it won’t be successful and I’ll have to stop making jokes and wait tables for a living. Can we get some decorum here?
– Want to watch a good, free wrestling show? Want to watch one where I’m the ring announcer? Inspire Pro Wrestling’s February show Light The Fuse is up on YouTube in its entirety, and it’s a thing you should watch.
– If you’ve been following the progress of Meet Me There, the reviews are starting to pour in and they’re extremely positive. So far we’ve heard from folks like Geekscape, UK Horror Scene, Deadshirt, The Dead House and more. If you’ve got a place that does movie reviews (or has “dead” in the title) and you want to check out our screener, hit me up so we can work something out.
Please click through to enjoy the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for April 28, 2014.
Worst: John Cena Still Doesn’t Care What Bray Wyatt Does But He Also Cares THE MOST
This is what goes through my mind during John Cena’s Bray Wyatt promos:
As I wrote about a little during the end of last week’s column, I can’t buy this feud any more because neither WWE Creative nor Cena himself allow the danger or drastic statements of character-ending horror to have consequences.
Cena was forced to confront the darkness in his soul or whatever at WrestleMania, and guess how he fought it back? By easily winning a wrestling match at WrestleMania. Then WHOOPS, the danger continued, and Cena’s STILL got to confront the darkness in his soul even though he already did it! On paper this could be an escalation … Wyatt claimed he’d have to go to greater lengths to drag Cena into his nihilistic abyss. That could work. But what’ve we gotten between WrestleMania and Extreme Rules? An added cage match stipulation, added by Cena, and the exact same attitudes the guys had before the first match. Wyatt laughs and sings and puts sheep masks on people. Cena acts really worried and distraught, then flips his switch and becomes a wacky jokester. Nothing matters. If Cena loses, he continues being Cena. That loss to The Rock at WrestleMania was supposed to change him forever, and the dude barely changed his shirt.
The idea that Wyatt’s message will spread to the world and “escape the cage” unless Cena beats him is a nice attempt at comparative imagery, but haven’t they pushed the “Wyatt doesn’t care about wins and losses” thing pretty hard since his debut? Is he gonna lose a cage match and then be all, “oh man, I’m sorry, I was probably wrong about all those things?” If the point of this feud is to bring out the dark side in US and teach US that everything is meaningless, then mission accomplished.
(Thanks to Justin for that video suggestion.)
Best: Bray Wyatt Leading A Chorus Of Creepy Sheep Children, Or
Worst: A Great Idea In The Wrong Place At The Wrong Time
Bray Wyatt interrupting Cena with a chorus of children singing Bible songs and wearing sheep masks is, on its own, the best Best I can Best. I would be willing to work 8-10 more “bests” into that sentence. It’s the kind of unforgettable, game-changing thing Wyatt should be doing to establishment jerks like Cena on the reg. It’s also what they should’ve done the week before WrestleMania 30, when we weren’t 1000% sure Cena would brush it off with a wanking motion.
That’s the thing. It doesn’t matter now. It’s cool, but it’s all wrong.
Cena acted upset about it when he was in the ring, but he couldn’t even make it to the end of the show without announcing with jokey references to donkeys. You drop a nuke like this on a guy and he can’t even sell his mental anguish for three hours? Cena saying he’s gonna beat up Wyatt would be cool if he hadn’t already done it. Do you see a trend here? They’re just doing the first leg of the feud over again.
On top of all that, there was just something off with the production. At the end, when the kid in the sheep mask sat on Bray’s knee, that should’ve been the BLEARP and jump to commercial. Instead, we hung on Bray for a loooong time, listening to his maniacal laughter sound less and less legit until he was doing a scene from Austin Powers. Then we got MULTIPLE REPLAYS of the entire thing, lengthy singing and laughing included. By the end of the show I was like Cena … I’d been hit by how crazy and cool it was, but a few hours later I was just sick of having to think about it.
Best: The Usos Get A Tag Title Defense They Deserve
This was delightful, though, and exactly what The Usos needed.
The Usos have always sorta wrestled like video game characters. They hop in and out, do their moves, hit their spots. When they’re in danger they just look like guys selling WWE movesets by lying down until it’s time to get up. Not to say they’re “bad at selling” or whatever, that’s just what they’re supposed to do. When the New Age Outlaws are beating them up, it feels like they’re going through the motions, waiting to get to the end to do whatever’s been planned as the finish.
Here, they wrestled like a team. Vulnerability is a very underrated aspect of pro wrestling, especially in tag teams. When I was a kid, my life began and ended with Ricky Morton tagging in Robert Gibson. That was IT. Morton would be in there for DAYS it seemed like, getting the ever-loving shit kicked out of him by the Midnight Express. They’d Worldstar him for half an hour, and this battered, bloody dude would come through in the clutch and LEAP or ROLL or WHATEVER and it was on. It felt like I was in there with him, taking the damage, wondering if he was gonna be okay.
Last night’s Usos match felt like that too, with the dive to the outside causing an unexpected ankle injury, and one or both Usos being grounded and on the verge of collapse for most of the match. Rybaxel WHOMPED them, and the severity and timing of the beating was enough to make the thought of a Raw title change sneak into my brain. That’s how you know wrestling’s being done correctly … it makes you forget what you think you know, and exist in what you’re being told.
Also cool: taking advantage of Curtis Axel’s total absence of ring awareness to splash him mid-Perfect Plex.
Best: Rybaxel Speaking German, If You Haven’t Seen It Yet
You’ve probably seen this and shown it to your friends, but in case you haven’t:
So that’s why Axel keeps saying “shaa.”
Worst: SORRY SHEAMUS LOST TWICE THIS YEAR WE’LL MAKE IT BETTER SORRY, SORRY
I’m not even sure what this was. Sheamus, a guy who never loses, lost twice in the same week. Once on Smackdown, once on Raw. He lost cleanly to Bad News Barrett and sorta turned my world upside down. Is Sheamus going to be a dynamic character, now? A guy who can realistically win or lose matches to help build the believability of the universe and not make me make me feel cynical about the disconnect between his incredible in-ring ability and his incredibly bad character?
This week seemed like a make-up week, with Sheamus being jumped from behind to start the match and still managing to win it with one move. I’m not emotionally invested in Titus O’Neil or anything, but I always enjoy Sheamus a little less when he’s so overtly the White John Cena. You see those “wow, he really took it to me” faces Sheamus is trying to make to help put Titus over after the match? Yeah, nope, you beat him with one move. Don’t sweat it.
Worst: Let’s Get These Two Worsts Out Of The Way
Okay, two quick Worsts about this segment:
1. Dolph Ziggler looks like a total, irredeemable putz for sucking up to Hugh Jackman instead of jumping him on sight. This guy showed up in a Broski headband and shattered your jaw, man, who cares if you love Hollywood action blockbuster explosions? You sound like an idiot and look like a chump. You could be Zack Ryder and this segment would be exactly the same. That’s not the kind of look you want when you’re the “show stealer.” Ryder couldn’t even steal a ticket to the show last night.
2. Hugh Jackman pronounces “Magneto” as “Mag-netto.” I haven’t been that disappointed since I went to visit my friend Mike Fireball, famous for his Super Mario Bros. speed runs, and heard him pronounce Mario “Mare-io.”
Okay, third worst:
3. Damien Sandow come out dressed like Magneto, and did not come out as Javert and sing the entirety of ‘Stars.’
Best: Damien Sandow As Magneto, Though
This was objectively pretty horrible from Ziggler’s smug reaction to a dude parallel to him on the promising future chart to the Magneto costume hoodie from Hot Topic in lieu of actual cosplay, but Damien Sandow was screaming about the POWER OF MAGNETISM and God, I can’t Worst that. This talented, charismatic motherf*cker is stuck in the ring with a celebrity guest and a guy who couldn’t take his job seriously if he was wearing Lance Storm’s skin as a suit doing Jedi mind trick gestures and giving it his all.
This is one of those times when a segment makes you shake your head, but should also make somebody in WWE management say, “Okay, enough with the Sandow shit, let’s let him be important again.”
Best: German Suplex Finishes
Firstly, I don’t care if Paul Heyman yanked his knock-knock joke from a WWE memes page. One of you is putting bold outlined Impact font on a picture of Chris Benoit and the other used to run the Dangerous Alliance. Just to type it out-loud, Paul Heyman is welcome to steal any of my jokes and use them without credit. I made a joke about R-Truth being one of Jack Kirby’s New Gods that people seemed to like, that’s probably relevant for the WWE Universe.
Secondly, the Dynamite Kid/Tiger Mask mark in me loves a good German suplex finish, especially when it’s executed by this generation’s Karl Gotch. I wish they’d called it a GOTCH STYLE GERMAN SUPLEX. Everything Cesaro does should be referred to as a “Gotch-style” thing, whether Gotch did it or not. A GOTCH STYLE SPRINGBOARD SPINNING EUROPEAN UPPERCUT! A GOTCH STYLE GLITTERY WOMEN’S BLOUSE!
I’m also down for Cesaro adding secondary finishers to his moveset. A German is the perfect choice for when he’s Neutralizing guys like Big E and they can’t remember to hold on to the legs. Can’t remember how to do moves? Here’s the easiest one ever. Stay still and let the putridly strong guy throw you backwards by your waist against your will. AJ Styles should start using a German and stop braining people who never learned how to front bump.
Thirdly, the Heyman/Zeb Colter feud is like the mature version of Torito vs. Hornswoggle. Maybe they should have a TL-Senile match before Over The Limit.
Worst: What Is That, Three Matches In the First 90 Minutes?
The opening match was great, but the second match lasted a minute and the third wasn’t much longer. That’s it for the first half of the show. Pace is an important thing to remember when you’re putting together three hours of wrestling, guys. When you forget your promo times and throw a bunch of 3-minute matches at us in a row, I see you trying to catch up. Make time for your wrestling matches. Let the guest promos and sheep sing-a-longs take the punishment.
Worst: Sometimes You Don’t Need To Show The Work
The Cody Rhodes and Goldust maybe-breakup continued this week, and that’s a good thing. If we aren’t going to keep Goldust on TV forever we should send him off with the one thing he actually wants to do in pro wrestling — help his brother get over before he’s gone.
The only problem I have with it is WWE’s weird idea of pacing. I don’t know who convinced the head writers that you had to repeat step one several weeks in a row to make sure everybody sees it, but you don’t. If Cody is upset about a loss one week and shoves Goldust away, that happened. It’s a thing we can remember and go back to. He doesn’t have to do the exact same thing in his next six matches before another plot point happens.
It’s the same thing they do with pay-per-view matches now. If Jack Swagger and Cesaro are going to wrestle at the big event, they wrestle over and over on Raw and Smackdown. How many times has Alexander Rusev had to squash Xavier Woods to build to a Rusev/Woods match? Why do they think we’ll only be excited to see a match if we’ve already seen it five times?
Don’t be afraid to move your stories forward. You’re a weekly episodic show with a dozen TV hours to play with. Your stories can have ten steps, you know? Not just two. You can also go step one, step two, not “step one, step one, step one, step one, step one, step two.” Tell all ten in order and see how much more exciting that tenth is when you get there.
Worst: Xavier Woods Getting Destroyed For The 50th Consecutive Time, Then Screaming Like A Tough Guy When His Friend Bails Him Out
speaking of incessant Xavier Woods content
Yeah, so Alexander Rusev makes quick work of Woods and prepares to lock him in the Bored Accolade. Before he can do that, R-Truth blunders into the ring and starts kicking at Rusev. Using a 2-on-1 advantage, Woods and Truth drive Rusev out of the ring, knocking him down for “the first time in his life” according to JBL, NXT General Manager Who Did Not See Rusev/Ziggler. Or Rusev/Big Cass. Anyway, Lana instructs Rusev to fight another day, and suddenly Woods starts yelling CAHH MAHH RUSEV, CAHH MAHHH~!
Two babyfaces who have lost 100% fairly to this guy on multiple occasions get themselves disqualified to prevent another submission loss, attack him 2-on-1 and then taunt him when he doesn’t keep trying to fight them. Which people am I supposed to cheer for again? Oh, right, Truth and Woods because they’re from AMERICA.
Aw, look how sad they are. Lana deserves some kind of Nobel Prize for walking backwards up the ramp in heels and that outfit. I was gonna make a joke about how weird it is to watch them walk backwards in sync, but yeah, there’s a chance Woods and Truth would just rush out of the ring and attack them from behind. WWE good guys, everybody.
Worst: Rob Van Dam Doesn’t Remember Bill Alfonso And Renee Young Is Cosplaying As MVP And Mark Henry’s Tag Team
1. I will never, ever knock Renee Young’s physical appearance, but this is all I could think of looking at her outfit …
2. Zeb Colter offers his services to Rob Van Dam, noting that they have a common enemy, and Van Dam turns him down. His reason? He doesn’t need a slimy manager to help him, he’s just going to do what he’s always done: be Rob Van Dam. Thumb pointies. I guess Van Dam is not remembering how the only truly relevant time in his professional wrestling career was orchestrated and accompanied by referee Bill Alfonso, arguably the slimiest manager in history.
I guess I should not be surprised that Van Dam doesn’t remember things.
Best: The Topes Win A Game!
Nothing makes me quite as happy after a match decision than ♫ WE’RE A THREE MAN BAAAAAAAAAND ♫ suddenly kicking in. 3MB victories are a genuine (and always welcomed) surprise, partially thanks to Heath Slater’s rotating selection of finishing maneuvers. You never know which one he’s gonna break out. It’s not like he uses ANY of them enough for us to get used to them, but dude’s had an implant DDT, a reverse DDT, a jumping reverse STO, a snapmare driver, a jumping neckbreaker, the Overdrive, a corkscrew splash … hell, Heath Slater could bust out a pedigree on Raw and I wouldn’t be surprised.
Now I really want to see Heath Slater pedigreeing Los Matadores. Can we put somebody else in 3MB and let Slater at least get Sandow’s role of “hopeless, but not totally hopeless?” Actually, can we elevate all three members of the team and just have 3MB be Corey Graves with a box of wigs, playing everybody like that convict dog that got stuck in the warden dog’s TV?
This is one of those ideas where you go “hahaha that would be AWESOME,” but then you don’t actually do it. I’ve felt weird about the line between loving the Torito/Hornswoggle beef and stomaching the very obvious “look at these little freaks” intention of it, but Wee-LC might be too far.
Although hey, if Bad News Barrett shows up and kicks them out of the ring because he thinks they’re Stackdown toys, I might be back in.
Worst: Brie Bella Doing Yes Chants Makes Me Not Want To Do Yes Chants
Brie Bella’s official name is now My Wife. Not even “My Wife” Brie Bella, just MY WIFE. She’s wearing Daniel Bryan’s merch, adding Daniel Bryan designs to her gear, becoming the focus of Daniel Bryan’s stories, delivering some of Daniel Bryan’s dialogue and doing Daniel Bryan’s taunts. I’d call it questionable, but he married a lady who has spent her life being one half of Sexy Marketable Twins, so I guess “having a singular identity” isn’t high on her list of priorities.
Worst: More Stories About Helpless Wives In Peril And Mean Bitches
shut it down, everybody.
Last week’s Raw opening was incredible. Daniel Bryan was in a genuinely emotional state, Stephanie McMahon was at her diabolical worst and Kane was eschewing years of ridiculous character perversions to show up as a deadly giant monster and tombstone piledriver Bryan to death on everything he could find. It was visceral and intense, and set a great tone for their championship match at Extreme Rules.
This week? Not so much.
Bryan and Kane did as well as they could in their roles, but oh man, their roles were bad. Bryan went from the people’s hero to John Cena stuck in a horror movie, striking people with wrenches and never being sure if he’s supposed to sell the neck brace or not. Kane went from a believable, powerful monster to a guy who comes up through a hole in the ring and tries to drag you to literal Christian Hell with MOOD LIGHTING. Brie Bella went from someone who is supposed to be a top WWE Diva to a woman the announce team constantly questions (“Why is SHE getting a Divas Championship match??”), unable to defend herself and stricken with deadly fear even though she’s been working with this scary dude for years and should know what’s up.
So many questions. Why didn’t Brie pick up the wrench and start swinging it herself? What exactly was Kane trying to do to her, anyway? Couldn’t Bryan just wait for Kane to drag her under the ring, then go under the ring and pull her out? There wasn’t a pillar of fire bursting out of it like that time he tried to abduct Eve Torres. Why did they tease Kane’s mask being “locked away” under a glass box they’ve established can just be lifted up, only for him to “unlock” it or whatever and put it back on? Does Kane put the mask back into safe keeping when he’s done being a monster? Is he Corporate Kane six days a week? How did the cameraman get that same panning shot of the mask box three times, but not get footage of Kane taking it?
But hey, at least the Daniel Bryan/Kane championship match involves Brie Bella calling Stephanie McMahon a bitch. Dramatic pause and everything. All the buys.
Best: Strumming My Pain With His Fingers, Singing My Life With His Words
And now, a guy who just gets me.
I applaud WWE for making Brandon Stroud a wrestling character and having Wade Barrett play him. Bad News Barrett’s rundown of Rob Van Dam is exactly the kind of thing I’d type in this report, and I may or may not have an Arrested Development-style surrogate situation happening. I did notice myself turning my elbow pad inside out for no reason yesterday.
I also like Barrett saying he was in diapers the last time Van Dam was relevant. Is Bad News Barrett supposed to be a badass 18-year old?
Worst: A Limp End To A Great Tournament
The match itself wasn’t great, as Rob Van Dam matches tend to be. He just takes offense until it’s time for the other guy to lie down and take his. That would’ve been bad enough on its own — notice the absence of “this is awesome” chants this week — but the match and the tournament had to end with interference from two concurrently feuding guys. All right.
Van Dam’s doing well, but gets interrupted by the appearance of Cesaro. Jack Swagger, the only obvious heel in this entire thing, runs down to pull Cesaro off the apron and save Van Dam? But whoops, he gets trounced and Cesaro interferes anyway, at least enough for Van Dam to take too long on a frog splash and get caught with knees. One Dog Boner later and we’re spared the atrocity of a Big E/Rob Van Dam match. After the match, everybody fights everybody, and … man, I don’t know.
I’m sad that the tournament had to end in a TNA main event, but we’ll always have Barrett/Sheamus. Let’s put Barrett over Big E at Extreme Rules and run Cesaro and Sheamus at him, okay? Don’t just let him hold the belt from atop his motorized News Podium and forget it’s supposed to involve wrestling matches.
Worst: Let’s Ask The WWE Universe What They Thought About The Tournament Finals
Pro tip: do not be these people.
Worst: Grandpa’s Visiting And He Thinks We’re His Old War Buddies
“Looks better than ever!” – JBL
I love you, Ric Flair, but it may be time for you to assume the Stu Hart role of sitting in the front row and waving politely. “Hey Triple H, I know you! You like ribeyes! The Shield’s great! Oh man Dave remember when you stuck those broads, you were gassed for a week, wooo.”
Best: The Value In Sticking Around Just A Little Longer
This might’ve been Roman Reigns’ best singles match to date, but I won’t praise him too much for it, because it also still revolved around what his swat pals were up to. When Flair came out with five minutes left in the hour and talked for the entirety of it I thought, “oh, cool, we’re just gonna hurl these guys at each other immediately and the ref’s gonna go OH BOTHER and throw it out.” I wasn’t entirely wrong, but at least we got a little pro graps before the now trademark I’VE LOST ALL CONTROL AND WON’T CONSIDER DOING ANYTHING ABOUT IT thrown-out main.
What I liked is that they built to what you’d expect to be the ending to Raw, then subverted it. I do Raw results and get them up as the show’s ending, so when Evolution was thoroughly trouncing The Shield I wrote something like, “Evolution beats down the Shield and stands over them to end the show.” Before I could publish, Seth Rollins comes springboarding into the ring with a flying knee … and while it didn’t connect or anything, it turned the tide and the show ended a beatdown with a rally and a comeback. How often does THAT happen? It was exciting. It felt like a real pro wrestling “fight,” and made the teams seem like equals. That’s more exciting than any switching off of one-sided wins and losses. It allows me to debate which team’s gonna come out on top, and that makes me want to watch Extreme Rules. See how that works?
That’s another version of “you don’t have to show your work.” Have stuff happen, but don’t feel like you have to have the fight happen to sell a fight. If Mayweather’s boxing somebody, he doesn’t make you buy a pay-per-view by boxing that guy four or five times beforehand to “build drama.” Drama is in the anticipation of the fight. Stuff like last night’s Shield/Evolution brawl built anticipation, because neither team was the clear victor. It also helped both sides look strong, but allowed them a small amount of vulnerability.
Next week, Triple H should have a promo interrupted by 50 children in swat vests and dog masks.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
“Say something stupid, Seth!”
Calling it now: Barrett wins Money in the Bank match via his scissor lift podium.
Cena: “Maybe I’m an old fashioned guy. I think dark stuff is bad for kids. I know I’m not for everybody, especially cynical adults, but I really do believe that a message of never giving up is important for today’s youth. Also, I think we should worship the sun and moon as gods, and fear them.”
Renee: “Wait…what was that last part?”
Cena: “Like I said, I’m just an old fashioned guy.”
Ape Cavalry Deserter
Kane actually pulled Nikki below the mat. That’s called the prestige.
Triple H to Stephanie: “Why are you taking pictures with DEMONS?! WHY? You can associate with demons, but don’t broadcast it. Don’t bring them to our wrestling events.”
Stephanie, prove your sincerity. Give them that Bed, Bath & Beyond gift card!!
Rob Van Dam says his own name more than a goddamned Pokemon.
Smooth Jimmy Apollo
The ending of The Streak is totally Heyman’s “Four touchdowns in a single game” moment, isn’t it?
Poor Zach Ryder is quietly weeping in his Sabertooth costume
“When Sheamus attacks a black wrestler from behind, it’s national news. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, even President Obama weigh in. But when Titus O’Neil attacks a defenseless white wrestler, in this case Sheamus, from behind, there’s a disturbing yet profound silence. Where’s Al Sharpton? Where’s Jeese Jackson? Where’s the president?” – Megyn Kelly
“And coming up…two punks…rich, privileged…attack a mentally retarded man. For what? For dressing as his favorite super hero…(Appalling)…And to make matters worse. These jokers are being applauded by their peers. Another case of ‘affluenza.’ We’ll discuss it next…on The Kelly File.” – Megyn Kelly
“Up next…are these the new liberal definition of ‘American hero?’ A Jewish stereotype and a Swiss national being lauded by the left for their takedown of two patriotic Americans who dared to speak their minds. That’s coming up…on The Kelly File.” – Megyn Kelly
“More than a dozen dead in Missouri tonight, and WWE plays…get this…a tornado warning siren in the middle of their popular ‘Monday Evening Raw’ program. Talk about irresponsibility….so is this the equivalent of shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater, and should there be charges for WWE chairman Vince McMahon stemming from this? Charles Krauthammer stops by to weigh in on the controversy. Next!…on The Kelly File.” – Megyn Kelly
“And coming up…an immigrant, a man who doesn’t even speak English…distracted by an African-American, only to be attacked from behind by another African-American. What follows is a heinous 2-on-1 assault. The shocking and disturbing video…next! On The Kelly File.” – Megyn Kelly
Megyn Kelly: And finally tonight…a national television program is showcasing the conflict between a religious group and a divorced Massachusetts man who lives with his out-of-wedlock, reality-show-star girlfriend…Of course, guess who’s being portrayed as the ‘bad guy’ here?…The religious group, whose biggest crime is singing Christian hymns on national television, are portrayed as stereotypical inbred hillbillies, complete with Southern accents, and are being shown more as a cult, complete with undertones of child molestation and indoctrination of the young…But the guy living with his reality-show-star, fake-breasted girlfriend? The one who doesn’t want kids? The one who, for all we know, has never set foot inside a church? Yeah…he’s the good guy. Joining me now is Juan Williams, and Juan…I don’t even know where to begin.
Juan WIlliams: Well, Megyn, in John Cena’s defense, he’s also granted more than 400 wishes to sick children through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. In fact, three of those youngsters were given front-row seats by Mr. Cena to last Monday’s program.
Megyn Kelly: I don’t have that here, but I’m guessing that’s inaccurate.
Juan: Uhhh…It’s completely accurate.
Megyn Kelly: Yeah. Sure it is. And presuming it is…a big presumption, granted…I wonder who the real child molester is…..Really makes you think. What is this country coming to?….
Thanks for reading, everybody. See you next week. – Megyn Kelly