– IMPORTANT: We’re doing a live Q&A with The Iron Sheik on Wednesday at 2PM, so make sure you’re here to participate in that. He’s gonna say some stuff, and if anybody says some stuff, it’s him.
– GIFs via Punchsport.
– Share the column and maybe Sting will come back! Come back and wrestle, I mean. He’s a petty dude, he works for web shares. It’s weird.
– If you’re in Austin on July 27, Inspire Pro Wrestling (the company I work for and help run) is happening. Here’s the flier if you wanna check it out. If you haven’t been paying attention, it’s the show I might die at.
– Upcoming MEET ME THERE screenings: August 1 and 2 at Beta Theater in Houston, Wizard World Chicago in Chicago (I’ll be there tabling! Batista is there too I guess!). We just found out we’re screening not only in Mexico but in the UK over the next couple of months, so holy crap, look out for that.
Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for July 14, 2014.
Best: Dean Ambrose, And The Authority Finally Figuring Out How To Stop Those Backstage Shield Promos
Two things deserve a Best here:
1. Dean Ambrose is a human being. He’s a crazy human being, mind you, but he’s got the tendency to approach the situation like a living, breathing character might. He knows he’s got a match against the Authority tonight. He wants to kick their asses. Meanwhile, John Cena and Roman Reigns (the guy who kept the Shield music and entrance even though it no longer makes sense, because it helps him stay cool) stand in the middle of the ring in one of those blathery Raw openings, going back and forth with sassy catchphrases. YOU WANT SOME, COME GET SOME! I WILL COME GET SOME, BELIEVE THAT! YOU CAN’T SEE ME! I ASSESS YOUR NATURAL CAMOUFLAGE AND ATTACK BLINDLY. It’s asinine, and Ambrose saying they’re arguing over who is the prettiest girl at the dance is abso-f*cking-lutely true.
(Roman Reigns is the prettiest.)
2. The Authority has FINALLY figured out that The Shield guys film those face-first backstage promos backstage (who knew), so if they want to beat them up, all they’ve gotta do is wander backstage, find where the filming’s happening and sneak up behind them while they’ve got their noses an inch from a camera. They weren’t only able to sneak up on him, they snuck up on him from ALL SIDES.
So: a Best for Dean Ambrose being the only top WWE babyface to respond to things like a human being, and a supplemental Worst for him having no friends or peripheral vision. Also:
Worst: Cena And Reigns Are The Worst Partners
That WWE backstage area is a hallway. We’ve seen it before. It’s the gorilla position (with the plugged-in TV and the freestanding trashcan full of icy water), a hallway with some doors and curtain-walled offices and then the truck bay. That beatdown on Ambrose lasted what, two minutes? Reigns and Cena couldn’t jog back there and help the man out? I get that Cena’s a self-centered POS, but isn’t Roman still Dean’s buddy? At least run in at the very end and be all HEY STOP IT GET OFF HIM.
Worst: Say ‘Moneymaker’ A Few More Times
WWE Fan Nation didn’t upload a clip of the show-opening Miz vs. Sheamus match. My theory is that they didn’t want people going back and counting how many times they said “moneymaker.’ Here’s the gag: The Miz is a Hollywood movie star now, so he doesn’t want to get punched in the face. The face is his moneymaker. His moneymaker, King! He doesn’t want to get hit in his moneymaker! The face is his moneymaker. He makes money with it! His face literally makes money! Why would you want your MONEYMAKER to get HIT? It might MALFUNCTION and STOP MAKING MONEY.
That’s not a joke. That’s what commentary sounded like. The only thing that could get them to stop saying ‘WWE Network’ was ‘moneymaker.’ And I get it if Miz wants to get ‘moneymaker’ over as a thing he says to get heat, but the problem is that he’s not the one saying it. I’m mad at the announce team for saying it. THEY get the heat. I do not for a second get the impression that Miz went to them before the match and said “hey guys, I’m calling this my moneymaker now. Make sure everybody knows which part of me is the moneymaker! CRUCIAL INFORMATION.”
Best: The Best Miz Match In Ages
The match itself was … surprisingly good. Miz got really good circa 2010/2011, when all the guys who trained at OVW or the early days of FCW were coming up working that Cena/Orton style and becoming big stars. Guys like Sheamus. Guys who wrestle like 2007 WWE Superstars (your Lances Cade and Renees Dupree) with a little extra. Miz learned how to rock and roll with these guys. Time passed and suddenly Miz was stuck trying to work killer matches with Daniel Bryan and CM Punk or whoever and he had no idea what he was doing. Some of those matches were good, don’t get me wrong, but Miz kinda lost focus as to what kind of style he was supposed to be working and ended up working with NO STYLE WHATSOEVER. It was his “you have to be JUST LIKE ME to be a WWE Superstar” from NXT season 1 going from totally true to depressingly outmoded.
Since his return, Miz has been a jobber for Chris Jericho. This was his first attempt at being a real pro wrestler again, and honestly? I enjoyed it. I want good things for Miz. I want him to come into his own again and be someone we look forward to on Raw, not one of the gaggle of throwaway Fernando and R-Truth types who are bodies to fill a battle royal.
I don’t know. Maybe it’s just the GIANT FACE OF MIZ he put on the TitanTron talking. That was wonderful.
Worst: The Rare DOUBLE Distraction Finish
WWE’s so good at tired finishes by now they’re doing two at a time.
Fandango and Dolph Ziggler are having a nice little match when Fandango’s music hits, DISTRACTING FANDANGO. One day I want the sudden entrance music to be a technical error and for both people wrestling to get distracted and double lose to an Ouroboros roll-up. Anyway, turns out Fandango’s extra distracted by Summer Rae and Layla dancing on the announce table. I guess nobody at ringside saw this coming when two dancing girls showed up and started climbing on a table.
And then WHOOPS, Dolph Ziggler is ALSO distracted! Both men manage to recover long enough for Dolph to hit one of his secondary moves for the win. After the match (with both wrestlers now totally fine), Dolph does the TV PG of Tommy Dreamer’s “I’m hardcore, I’ll take ’em both” act and gets SEXY CHEEK KISSES from both girls. Fandango is super upset by this, even though he’s hooked up with both of them and clearly didn’t want either of them.
If this leads to Fandango’s original dancer coming back ALL BUSINESS and pushing Fandango to a secondary title, I am all in.
Best/Worst: Summer Lay
I was so excited about how everything was turning out with Summer Rae and Layla, besides me not being able to call them ‘RaeCool.’ They were on some Harley and Poison Ivy shit. Sisters are doing it for themselves! They could exist without a boyfriend now, and team up to take on the Divas division or descend back down into NXT and wreck whatever’s left of the BFFs. It was gonna be great, and we were gonna write so much progressive fan fiction about them driving convertibles with their arms up.
So much for that, I guess. RIP New Queens Of Crime, That One 3/4 Of A Week In 2014 – The Following Monday.
Worst: Adam Rose Is Such An Asshole About Food
Two weeks ago, Adam Rose and his Rosebuds showed up out of nowhere to make Santino Marella feel better about nobody coming to his cookout by shilling Twisted Tea. This week, they appear out of nowhere to take a Ultimate Cheese & Bacon Cheesy Bread Dog away from Damien Sandow because he’s been rude to the Sonic car hop who is … uh, delivering food to people inside an arena? Whatever.
The point I’m making is this: when did Adam Rose become the WWE’s Ethical God Of Food? Is that why the hamburger guy’s always following him around? Does the Easter bunny follow him because he commands that bunny’s supply of eggs? Is there some weird Pagan thing happening in the lower lower mid-card?
It was horrible, but I’m giving it a supplemental Best for maintaining the continuity of Damien Sandow loving shitty fast food.
Best: No, The Actual Détente
Speaking of being all-in on something, I’m still all-in on babyface Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger.
It requires you to turn off your brain. That’s usually something I HATE. Asking me to turn off my brain is the worst thing you can ask me. Turning off your brain is all too often a justification for someone to be lazy, to get away with half-assing something and pandering to the lowest common denominator to profit. It’s the Transformers having pee jokes and robot balls. It’s time travel movies not making any goddamn sense. It’s Rambo never running out of bullets. That kind of thing.
With wrestling, though, it’s a little different. If something asks you to turn off your brain to “get away” with something, it can be bad. Suspension of disbelief only goes so far. But if wrestling plays so truly to a trope that it sheds the skin of 20 years of cynicism and gets to the root of the stupid, ignorance-baiting thing that made us fans in the first place? That can work. It’s a fine line, and by “fine line” I mean “a totally hypocritical thing that I’m choosing to enjoy for the sake of it so shut up.”
Zeb and Swagger as “real Americans” vs. the most unreasonable anti-American people in history is perfect. WWE heels are always hitting too close to home, getting too close to the truth when they spout heel nonsense that it makes overly analytical jerks like me go “wait, they’re RIGHT” and throw in with their cause. Even if we don’t agree with it. We’ll throw in with them because it makes sense, because nothing else ever makes sense. If Lana and Rusev show up and are like, “here’s what’s horrible about your military. Here’s what’s horrible about your mangled, rewritten history. Here’s what’s horrible about how you treat the world and how the world views you,” what are we supposed to do? Boo them for exposing us to the truth? But what happens if Lana skips all that and is just like SHUT UP, YOU’RE STUPID, STOP LIKING YOUR COUNTRY, STOP IT, YOU’RE STUPID, YOU ARE STUPID AND RUSSIA IS BETTER? We can lace up our hypothetical Toby Keith assboots and say F*CK YOU, GENETICALLY PERFECT SUPER PEOPLE, AMERICA RULES. Because that is goober as f*ck to say, goober as f*ck Jack Swagger and Dirty Dutch are the perfect people to say it.
Zeb IS OKAY WITH OBAMA NOW because these Russian co-workers are such buttholes. How superb is that? He’s forced to take a rational point of view because his opponent is so irrational. It’s absurd playing against straight. If you’re absurd and somebody more absurd shows up, you’ve gotta play straight. Or you’ve got to YES AND them and also love Russia. That’s basic improv comedy. On top of that, it’s EXCITING. Has Jack Swagger ever been this over? People want to see the evil Russian guy beaten so badly they will unite in support of JACK SWAGGER. That is old timey wrestling booking making everybody involved with it look great. This is one of the reasons why we thought every wrestler was cool when we were five.
If Rusev beats Swagger at Battleground and drapes an American flag over his unconscious body, shit is gonna get real.
Worst: If Flo Rida Shows Up Next Week And Heath Slater Doesn’t Get His Revenge, You’re Dead To Me
Flo Rida, the man we named the 13th worst celebrity guest in WrestleMania history, will make a guest appearance on next week’s Raw. If you’ll recall, his last WWE appearance involved him childishly insulting Heath Slater, then brutally shoving him into a wall when he got upset about being insulted. It was a total piece of shit move, and if next week’s Raw features Slater running out and shoving Flo Rida off the stage it will be the greatest Raw moment of all time.
Alternate plan: they make peace, and Heath bops around in the background while Flo Rida performers. So, either that or him being shoved to his death. One or the other.
Best/Worst: Sting, And That Starrcade ’97 Entrance Theme
As you might’ve heard, Sting made an appearance on Raw (in a video game commercial) last night.
I have so much to say about this. Sting was my Hulk Hogan when I was little. When people do that “EVERYBODY was a Hulkamaniac!” thing, it’s not true. Some of us were Little Stingers and thought Hogan was a weird oaf. At the same time, it’s not like Sting’s been off in oblivion for the past decade … he’s been on TNA, where he’s stunk it up tremendously and made everyone involved with him (including himself) look like a pile of garbage. Nostalgia is great, and yeah, meeting Sting is my White Whale, but I feel like I can love him and get misty-eyed over him without making the 55-year old version of him awkwardly dropkick Bray Wyatt, you know?
My feelings about Sting can be described best by how I felt hearing the song in the commercial. That’s Sting’s Starrcade 97 entrance theme. Hearing the notes sent me back to when I was a teenager, caught up in the Sting vs. nWo angle and ready to blow off the last year of television on WCW’s biggest show of all time. My favorite wrestler was BACK, and he was gonna kick Hollywood Hulk Hogan’s ass.
By the end of the commercial, I remembered the match.
Worst: Nikki Bella Is My Favorite Little Rascal
Hey Nikki, why are you the tomboy who joins the team in every ’90s kids sports comedy? You’re a supporting character in a Nick Toon. Buy some gear.
Worst: Welp, At Least She Did A Little Better This Time
Battleground is this Sunday, which means maybe we’ll finally break this string of identical Raws. For the umpteenth week in a row (get it, because she’s dressed like a baseball player) Nikki Bella gets stuck in a handicap match to punish her for that thing Brie Bella did ages ago. Nikki does a little better this time, but Alicia is able to put her away with her new finish, which I am christening the SHOULDER DISLOCATOR.
This was easily the best part of the match:
That’s hilarious, but we have to mind the Glee rule here: bringing up something we’re making fun of you for doesn’t make that thing less embarrassing for you.
Worst: I Cannot Type Three Weeks Of Material In Capital Letters
Stardust blowing star glitter into Goldust’s mouth while he’s trying to do his catchphrase is magical.
Aside from that … seriously, I don’t know what else I can say about this one Raw. I’ve been writing about it for a month. Here’s another thing I’ve written three times: “Stardust and Goldust are awesome, maybe put them in a match against someone who isn’t Rybaxel or give them a storyline of some sort so we can continue liking them and not get tired of the one thing you keep telling them to do.” I dig them hanging around backstage on the set of Sensual Seduction and acting like goofballs, but shit, do something.
Best: Cesaro Hornswoggles Kofi Kingston
My favorite moment on Raw was Cesaro reliving one of the greatest moments in WrestleMania history: when JBL calmly picked up an object and hurled it WITH MALICE at Hornswoggle. I laughed and clapped my hands for like five minutes. Cesaro was suddenly possessed by the spirit of Brandon Stroud.
Best: Paul Heyman Is Subtle
GOSH PAUL WHAT COULD IT BE
I sure hope that “C” stands for “client,” as in “your client,” as in “your client Brock Lesnar conquered the Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania.” I’ll be honest though, if that SummerSlam poster leaked on purpose to make us think Brock was Paul’s plan C but it’s actually “C” as in “CM Punk,” I’ll forgive the last seven months of AMC drama bickering and be right back on board.
I’ll also accept “C” as in “Cesaro,” and us not Curtis Axelling Cesaro for the rest of his life.
A Quick Question About Plan B:
Seth Rollins has the Money in the Bank briefcase, and Dean Ambrose has promised that Seth will never get to cash it in, because he’ll always be there to stop him. Twice Rollins has tried to cash in, and twice Ambrose has shown up to tackle him and punch him a bunch to prevent it.
Serious question: The Raw 1000 Cena cash-in showed that MITB cash-ins can end in a DQ. Why doesn’t Ambrose let Rollins cash in, wait until the second the bell rings and THEN jump him? If the match is official, it ends as a DQ win for Rollins and he doesn’t get the belt. Plus, no more briefcase.
Best: Alberto Del Rio vs. Rob Van Dam
I’m not gonna lie, I kinda loved this.
Two reasons: One, that perfectly-timed apron trap with Van Dam slingshotting himself over the top rope and Del Rio f*cking fishing netting him with it on the way down. Two, Van Dam clumsily selling the knees on the Five Star Frog Splash and Del Rio just straight SCIENCE MUSCLING him over into an armbreaker. It was like, “welp, you aren’t in place, enjoy me moving your face around with my knee.” Del Rio is such a badass, and I hate that literally every match he has starts off feeling like the stalest shit of all time.
Worst, But I Understand: The Boring Chants For Bray Wyatt
‘Boring’ chants are the worst. Very few performers ever deserve them, especially not Bray, who is always compelling on the microphone. He’s in a feud with Chris Jericho. Don’t you want to hear what he has to say?
That said … I get it. What’s worse is that I agree. It IS boring. Bray’s been doing the exact same promo for almost a year now with nothing to show for it. He skips around in the narrative, jumbles up his messages, changes mission statements on the fly. On NXT, it was a character that accomplished things. He had a message and he shared it with the NXT Universe through brutality and gravitas. What’s he done on Raw? He’s feuded with a bunch of people who don’t matter (Kane, R-Truth), lost every feud that DID matter (Bryan, Cena) and in that showed that his message — that thing we’re supposed to be the most afraid of — goes nowhere. There’s not a danger to Bray Wyatt. He just says stuff and sneak attacks you like every other wrestler ever. Why be more afraid of Wyatt than Fandango? They’re both gonna surprise you with their music and jump you from behind. What, one’s scarier because he rocks in a rocking chair instead of dancing?
This is the kind of paragraph I hate writing. Bray The Performer is AWESOME at what he does. Rowan and Harper, too. They’re in a feud with Chris Jericho and this should be going well, but it’s just … nothing. They’re “getting into Jericho’s head?” Really? Because they’re attacking him a bunch? Are they the first wrestlers to ever attack Chris Jericho? Is “do your finisher to me when I don’t want you to” enough to break Jericho? You can’t just say something is, you have to show it. Make it make sense. You don’t, you don’t ever, but you HAVE to.
I want this to be something, but it’s boring. It doesn’t deserve the chant, but I get it.
Worst: Paige Just Made Up The Word ‘Frenemy’
“Me and AJ we’re friends, but we’re also enemies. I call it ‘frenemies.’ I just put the two words together! It means she’s my friend and my enemy at the same time. Do you get it? It’s like ‘friend enemies’ but put together. Portmanteau’d. ‘Frenemies’ is what we are. I’m great at coming up with these jokes. I would say that Cole, you and JBL are in a ‘bromance!’ That’s a romance between guys! Like ‘bros’ plus ‘romance.’ But let’s get back to ‘frenemies.'”
TAKE IT HOME, PAIGE.
Best: AJ Vs. Paige
After the match, AJ Lee popped a squat on the announce table and talked to Paige. Here’s a video clip:
AJ is Johnny, Paige is the lady at the flower shop and JBL is Doggie. CM Punk isn’t here, but he’s absolutely Lisa.
Best: Bo Dallas Can Even Make The Great Khali Entertaining
This was the most predictable part of an already crazy predictable show, but that doesn’t make it any less grand. Bo Dallas continues both his winning streak and his “be Brandon’s favorite part of the show” streak by not only defeating Khali by count-out using SMART ASS WRESTLING, but selling Khali’s post-match aggression like he’s just been severely concussed. Also, managing to still do his victory lap and signature taunts while BEING concussed. It’s great. Even the announce team loves Bo. Listen to them, they’ll make fun of him for stuff, but they’ll still laugh at basically anything he does.
Best: Sign Of The Night
Seriously Bo, what’s up with that
Worst: Ric Flair Is Trying To Help Us Be Okay With The Whole ‘John Cena Passing Him’ Thing
1. Renee is wearing Roman Reigns’ gear, but in white.
2. I wish Flair had had anything post-WrestleMania 24 to get fired up about, because FIRE IN HIS EYES old man Ric Flair is amazing. That guy’s still got a solid dozen FIRE ME, I’M ALREADY FIRED promos in him somewhere, I know it. All he’s had time to do since then is get married and drunk, though, so Lecherous Grandpa Flair is what we get. It’s fine. It’s Flair. I just hate that you have to forget every single aspect of current Ric Flair to enjoy him like you’re supposed to. Hey Renee, prompt him to start screaming about the Funks already.
3. Cena palling around with Ric and letting him hold the World Heavyweight Championship feels a lot like WWE working overtime to make us okay with Cena passing Flair on the all time champs list. Cena’s up to 15 and he’s got 10 more years of main-eventing ahead of him. That’s not even counting the sympathy wins when he’s an old man. There’s no way Flair’s 16 goes another year without at least being tied, so we might as well give Cena fans that “Cena and Flair are FRIENDS” ammo to justify it.
4. How sad is it that The Shield music suddenly hitting means a sassy babyface is showing up, and not the signal for a MEGA BEATDOWN of whoever’s in the ring?
Worst: Oh No, These Odds, How Will I Overcome Them
The same thing we always see. A perfectly acceptable tag match where three guys compete evenly with two with almost no drama related to the handicap besides the announcers insisting it, followed by every man being for himself to set up the every man for himself thing at the pay-per-view. Exactly what you’d expect.
A supplemental Best for Seth Rollins making the entire Internet think he’s injured. That’s good selling. He just had to have a reason to not be in the ring, guys.
This Sunday: BATTLEGROUND
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
Let’s hope the show ends with a closeup of the Big Gold Belt lying on the floor backstage near a discarded black baseball bat and trench coat.
Man, a pawn shop in Richmond is about to get a piece of wrestling history!
“I could care less about the WWE struggling… I wanna kiss you.”
“I’ve seen tables on fire of the shores of Bash at the Beach. I’ve seen cell phones glitter in the dark. All those moments will fall in time, like broken down walls.” – Chris Jeribatty
Jericho: “…A seemingly unstoppable force!”
“Before I start this promo head to STAMPS DOT COM and SQUARESPACE to help keep this promo free”
Kofi: “Thanks for saving me last week, man.”
Big E: “Don’t worry. It was no BigE.”
Next week Sarah Mclachlan will be patting Zack Ryder’s head while tearfully asking viewers to pledge just $9.99 a month so that creatures like him can flourish once more.
“Hey Roman. It’s not your fault”
“It’s not your fault”
“Hey hey Roman. It’s not your fault”
“Don’t f*ck with me John, don’t f*ck with me”
“It’s not your fault”.
Lana: “Quick how do you say excuse me in Russian?”
Thanks, everybody. See you this weekend for some Battleground jazz.