– Happy Memorial Day, yesterday!
– Real life stuff repost:
If you’re interested in seeing the best pro wrestling card in Texas all spring (and possibly all year), Inspire Pro Wrestling’s ‘In Their Blood 2’ happens in Austin on 5/31. It’s the same day as the Elimination Chamber, sure, but we didn’t schedule ours on a whim Monday afternoon. Also, Ricochet and Joey Ryan and Candice LeRae and a ton of other awesome people are gonna be there, so if you stay at home watching a show that’ll be on demand the second it ends, you’re gonna have a bad time.
If you’re interested in seeing Meet Me There on a big screen before our DVD/VOD release, your last chance is June 7 in New York City at the Anthology Film Archives. If this is your first time hearing of it, it’s a horror movie I made with Goldust and a bunch of awesome independent wrestlers, so in addition to being this emotional, tense thing about the horrors of sexual dysfunction it’s also a ‘Where’s Waldo’ for people who recognize Blue Pants or Evan Gelistico. Go see it! I’ll probably be there!
– Shares, likes, comments and other social media things are appreciated.
And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for May 25, 2015.
Worst: Even The Five-Minute Version Of This Is Too Boring To Sit Through
Seriously, WWE Fan Nation’s version of last night’s 20-minute show-opening ramble is clipped down to five minutes, and there’s no way you can get through it without fast forwarding. It’s the pro wrestling equivalent of that nine-minute take from Funny Games. It takes Seth Rollins 15 minutes to make it around the living room and disappear into the kitchen, then we just kneel and check on Dean Ambrose for another five.
WWE thinks their stories are really difficult to follow, I guess, and that they have to lay out all the exposition in a slow, clear voice if they want to be understood. Here’s what they take 20 minutes to say: “Seth Rollins is better than Dean Ambrose. Dean Ambrose has to sign a contract for Elimination Chamber because he hasn’t actually signed one yet. Dean knows he’ll get beaten up if he goes into the ring to sign it, but Roman Reigns is here to help! Dean and Roman will be in a tag match.” Even my version was a little wordy. The quicker version is “please enjoy every Raw main event you’ve ever seen as the first match.”
Worst: Are You Asleep Yet, Because We’ve Got 2 1/2 Hours Left
I’m so tired of this match, and every variation of it.
I’m not asking you to never give me high-quality wrestling with your biggest stars, but think about it from an entertainment point of view. Remember WrestleMania III? Of course you do. Not counting house shows (because only a small group of people ever got to see them), how many times did you see Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant? You can probably count them on one hand. How many times did you see Macho Man Randy Savage vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat? A few times, but this is the one that mattered. These matches formed a generation of wrestling fans.
Now, imagine that every week you saw Ricky Steamboat team up with Hulk Hogan to face Macho Man and Andre the Giant. Imagine that you seriously saw it four times a month. The first one ends in a DQ when Andre and Savage won’t stop stomping Hogan. The second one ends in a DQ. Hogan’s about to hit his leg drop when Elizabeth runs in and attacks him. Hogan and Steamboat double clothesline her over the ropes and pose in the ring. The third match is actually a handicap match, with Hogan having to take on Andre and Savage by himself. He wins, and Steamboat runs down to help him fight off a post-match attack. Match four goes to the heels when Dino Bravo’s music hits and Steamboat gets rolled up. That all builds to a new WrestleMania III match: Hogan and Steamboat vs. Andre and Savage. The faces win in about 11 minutes. You would’ve given this shit up in 1988, right?
I’m sad I used my bad month of booking in the previous paragraph, because oh man, WWE only has one vision for Main-Event Dean Ambrose: a less threatening version of Bugs Bunny.
They did it to him the last time he got this high on the card. All of a sudden dude was wandering away from shows and stealing hot dog carts and beating people up with ketchup and mustard. He was getting his head crushed by foam cinder blocks and disappearing to make Cop Horror 2 or whatever. Then we kinda forgot about him, and after a long transitional period he went back to being the kind of wrestler we could like. Now it’s time for another run at the main event and WHOOOOPS, he’s punching a cameraman and “getting arrested” so he can go on another magical off-screen adventure. Because he’s wacky. HE’S THA LUNATIC FRINGE, MAGGLE! ALABAMMA SLAMMA!
Trust me, though: if you’re five, the payoff for this is gonna be GREAT.
Best: At Least He’s From Bulgaria Again
♫ Bulgaaaaria, Bulgaaaaria ♫
Rusev defeats his side piece R-Truth for the 60,000th time with The Accolade and it’s about as “disposable Raw” as you can get, but now Rusev’s got a little spearmint green in his gear. It’s Malibu Stacy with a new hat, but I’ve got to Best something.
Best/Worst: The Rusev And Lana Breakup, Part 3
I can still see where Rusev’s coming from.
Sometimes you’re in love. You know that the person you’re kissing and holding hands with is the one that goes with you. You match. You coordinate. You’re two halves of a whole. Then, because life’s this way, something splinters it. You have one major moment of miscommunication where you’re both trying to do the right thing, but it all f*cks up. Rusev quit in Bulgarian because the pain was too much, but he was using it as strategy to push himself past his normal limits. He was counting on nobody around knowing Bulgarian, and thought he could maybe just handle it and recover. When he was revealed, it ruined him. Now he’s just trying to save face and get the people he loves to back him up, even if he’s wrong. He wants support. Lana wasn’t giving up for Rusev to cost him the match, she was doing it because she cares about him and doesn’t want him to be hurt. They’re both right, but they’re both being assholes because making mistakes and hurting the people you love is hard and makes you stupid.
Your relationship ends, and all of a sudden the woman you love is kissing this shitty-ass dude and it doesn’t make any sense. They don’t fit. They don’t match or coordinate and they aren’t two halves of anything. She’s your left arm and your left leg and most of your torso, and he’s got blue eyes or whatever so none of it matters anymore. He put in no work and offers her nothing and guess what? He gets everything you wanted without having to try. He doesn’t even give a shit, you know? He just gets kissed. You pulled your ass up from nothing in Bulgaria to become a WWE Superstar and you brought her along with you. You worked for years to become the Hero of the Russian Federation to impress her. You fought John Cena and rode a goddamn tank to the ring at WrestleMania and brought her along. Now it’s two months later and she’s f*cking some guy because he’s got a strong jaw and a jean jacket. What the f*ck? It’s enough to make you want to scream and throw something and break R-Truth’s spine. At the same time, you can’t tell her what to do. She controls her own romantic and sexual agency. You messed it up. She messed it up, too, but the only thing you’re gonna be feeling for the rest of your life is that you messed it up.
Of course, again, WWE gets close to those themes and backs away. It’s easier to get heat by having Rusev say she’s an object or whatever and she belongs to him, and it’s empowering in quotation marks to have her say she belongs to nobody. It’s in quotation marks because she’s entering to Dolph Ziggler’s music and kissing Dolph Ziggler and hanging around with Dolph Ziggler. She just changed suits.
This entire story makes me sad, and makes me wish I was better at love.
Worst: ROAL BULLHAMMA
Is it safe to say that Wade Barrett is the worst “champion” in WWE history? I can’t think of anyone who has done less with what they’ve been given. Whenever he has a title or honor like “King,” he loses 100 percent of his power and momentum and becomes the saddest, easiest-to-beat guy ever. It’s not about pushes and burials and jobbing or whatever, he’s just pathetic. You can only systematically break and reset a bone so many times before you’ve accidentally killed a guy.
Worst: This Is The Same Dolph Ziggler vs. Sheamus Match You’ve Already Seen, And The Same One They Have Every Time
I considered typing “n/t” and moving on.
I mean, the promise I make to you when you click on a Best and Worst of Something is that there’ll be content. I’ll watch wrestling and form a few opinions or maybe write a few jokes and type them here. It’s a social contract. I can’t just post a bunch of YouTube videos, type “this happened” and bail. I don’t WANT to. I want to be engaged in the product, at least enough to write a paragraph explaining what was going on in my brain during the 8 minutes or whatever it spent on a wrestling match.
Raw is at its worst when it attempts to recreate the house show circuit on television. If we only got to see one episode of Raw every quarter, we’d probably love everything they did. Unfortunately we get to see EVERY EPISODE, over a thousand of them, and sometimes it’s just a f*cking rerun. What are we supposed to take away from this specific Ziggler/Sheamus match? What did they do? What story did they tell? That Rusev hates Ziggler and cost him a match? Haven’t we told that story before? Don’t we always tell that story? How many Somebodies can cost Somebody Else a match before we send out a memo?
Best: The Post-Match Attack
Rusev camel clutching Dolph Ziggler in Lana’s face and yelling “KISS HIM NOW” might’ve been my favorite moment of the entire show. But what do I know? I’m the guy living vicariously through a codependent Bulgarian.
Best: Bo Dallas, Y’all
1. I’m not sure how to feel about the Stardust/Stephen Amell interaction. If it’s just a fun thing to mess with a celebrity in the crowd, that’s cool. Have the guy who plays a comic book hero interact with the wrestler dressed like Mr. Sinister. Wrong universe, but whatever. I don’t like that Amell got to make Stardust look scared, and I don’t like that Stardust lost the match. It just doesn’t seem like it accomplishes anything. Stardust isn’t a threat to anybody, if Amell got in the ring he’d be fighting a guy who can’t win, and he’s already got that guy scared. So, like, he won? Can we just pull out a bow and shoot Stardust in the chest with a boxing glove arrow already?
2. Bo Dallas is great. Neville beats Stardust but he’s still selling his knee injury and can’t get up, so Bo gets in the ring and tells him to Bo-lieve. As soon as Neville stands, Bo dropkicks him in the injured knee. That is GLORIOUS. Let’s let Bo keep being a thing. He’s good at what he does.
Worst: We Can’t Wait For SummerFest!
The cast of Entourage runs into the WWE Divas (who have no actual heel or face alignment when they’re backstage, only “dresses”) and exchange LinkedIn profiles, basically. The cast of Entourage never misses an episode of Total Divas! The Divas can’t wait until June 3, when the Entourage movie is released! Summer Rae can’t wait so hard she knows the release date of the Entourage movie. Jeremy Piven doesn’t even know the release date well enough to work it into conversation like that.
There’s also a segment where TCOE talk to Triple H and Stephanie, who assure them that they are big fans of the show and can’t wait for the movie. It’s full of terrible camera angles to make sure each actor gets a close-up.
Both segments exist as an excuse to get Zack Ryder on Raw. That’s the PAYOFF. Welcome back to 2012, everybody!
Best: Zack Ryder Did A 450 Something Something KEVIN OWENS
John Cena defends the United States Championship against Zack Ryder thanks to prodding from THE CAST OF ENTOURAGE, and it’s one of those U.S. Open matches that probably should’ve already happened. Cena and Ryder are pals, right? I know they had some issues with the whole “a demon stole your crush and I saved her and then called her a bitch” stuff, but Ryder wrote a novelty pop song about it so it’s water under the bridge. Ryder looked okay in the match, but he’s too married to that “hit a signature move, go for a pin, nothing else” style that bums me out. Cena won, because what, he’s gonna lose to Zack Ryder? Are the Chicago Blackhawks going to lose to me in a pair of rollerskates?
Anyway, forget everything I just typed because Kevin By God Owens shows up again, puts Cena down with another pop-up powerbomb and stomps on the United States Championship. He’s got a new shirt and NEW SHORTS~, which better be available on WWE Shop when I’m done writing.
I’m worried that Owens constantly going over Cena in these TV interactions is gonna lead to some really dramatically emasculating and wind-sucking stuff at Elimination Chamber, but I’ll try to stay optimistic. Is there a good way for that match to go? If Owens beats him, Owens has beaten John Cena. Does he just go back to NXT? Is that how they make NXT its own brand, by having Owens say “I beat the top WWE guy and I’m the top NXT guy, so that means NXT is better than WWE and you should all stay here with me?” Does … that work? If Cena beats Owens, even if it’s a great match and Cena gives him everything, we won’t be happy. I’m not too proud to admit it. I am going to be a fussy, pissy baby.
Worst: Zack Ryder Is Celebrating His Loss With Sexual Assault
He’s so excited he’s going to pick up “the first thing he sees.” He tries to kiss Jojo, but she stops him, so he just grabs Emma from off-screen, kisses her against her will, then shoves her BACK off-screen.
Pretty excited to not have to see him on Raw for another year.
Worst: And Now, A Handicap Match For No Reason!
Kane puts The New Day — the heel-as-balls New Day — in a 10-on-3 handicap match against the teams they’re facing at Elimination Chamber. Before any of it can matter, the referee calls for the bell because oh no you guys, too much wrestling is happening! It’s a MUGGING, King! Which … was the point? Anyway, instead of all the teams beating up The New Day they start beating up each other, which puts us even FARTHER from the point.
To put it another way, a heel GM character put a heel faction in a handicap match to punish them for nothing. They ended up not punished when the match barely happened, and all the guys they were supposed to fight fought themselves.
Also, I think Natalya’s in The Ascension now? Who knows.
Worst: Take It Home, Life
Tamina wrestling with The Bella Twins on color commentary is my own personal vision of Hell. Even the clipped version is agony. Tamina has no idea how to take a CLOTHESLINE, much less several clotheslines in a row. She also doesn’t know how to take superkicks or Irish whips, and she needs like 15 seconds to set up a Samoan Drop. Meanwhile, the Bellas are making sounds that may or may not be burrowing into my brain and threatening to explode my head.
This was just … terrible. I want to phrase it more delicately, but this was the straight-up shits. They need to finish up whatever they’re doing with Tamina and then future endeavor her so hard she travels time.
Worst: THE END
Remember when Stone Cold Steve Austin drove a Zamboni to the ring, crashed it into the apron and dove over a field of security guards to attack Vince McMahon? Remember how cool that was? Austin was being manipulated by an evil authority and couldn’t take it anymore, but knew he couldn’t take on a ring full of people head-on … so he found the one vehicle that realistically exists in a sports arena and used it to his advantage. It was kinetic. We felt his rage and fury, and wanted to see him kick Vince’s ass.
Remember last night on Raw when Dean Ambrose drove a police vehicle into the arena, stopped at the stage, got out dressed like a sassy police officer and ran down to the ring to do the same group punching he could’ve done at the top of the show and saved himself three hours of trouble? Remember how everybody kinda sat on their hands?
Wacky, PG Stone Cold Steve Austin does not and cannot exist. The entire point of him was ENERGY, and energy comes from adrenaline. Adrenaline comes from fear and anticipation and the uncertainty of the moment. You can’t get an adrenaline rush from safety. You can’t get an adrenaline rush from seeing the same thing every week and knowing what’s about to happen. You do not get excited seeing a guy wearing a police hat, driving a Bookmobile with “POLICE” written on the side. It’s like getting amped for the mailman.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
I wonder if the Illuminati realizes their emissaries to professional wrestling are complete failures.
Tamina wrestles like The Bellas speak.
Time to throw in the Ed Hardy towel….
And the WWE is described in five words:
Then. Now. But Mostly Then.
I like how Booker’s only consistent character trait is contempt for women being at ringside.
BNB’s new theme song should just be The Rains of Castamere at this point.
Wow, he went from Zero to Marc Mero pretty quick.
Rusev: “Hey Russia its Alex. I’ve had a little bit to drink. I was thinking, hey, maybe you and me should get together for old times sake. So um, call me back”
“Russia! Sup, Alex again. Don”t know if you got my last message. You’re great, you know, you’re… you’re awesome. Just call me ok.”
“Listen bitch, I don’t even need you. I was doing you a favor by calling”
*weeping* “I’m so sorry! I never knew what we had. Pleeeease I neeeeeeeeeeed you!”
Mr. Royal Rumble, TheCensoredMSol finishes us out:
Roman Reigns is here to announce that he flew around the Earth backwards and turned back time to a point before Ambrose was arrested.
Tonight’s very special Memorial Day episode of Raw pays homage to veterans of World War I, where everyone gets bogged down in trenches and nothing happens for four years.
Thanks, everybody. See you this Sunday for Extra Pay-Per-View.