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And now, here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for Aug. 10, 2015.
Worst: “I Look Like I Got A Nosejob From Picasso!”
This is the worst episode of Clutch Cargo I’ve ever seen.
This week’s Smackdown — this is Smackdown, right? — begins with a bunch of wrestlers getting into an argument until Daddy (played by Triple H) shows up and puts them into matches. Seth Rollins starts things off with a Conan O’Brien bit from 20 years ago, using Synchro-Vox to give a still photo of John Cena a superimposed mouth so he can say FUNNY THINGS. Capital letters. He’s interrupted by Cesaro, they’re interrupted by Kevin Owens, we’re all interrupted by Randy Orton, and then matches are made. The ghost of Teddy Long is standing beside Yoda and Obi-Wan in the background.
The worst part of the segment is, “I look like I got a NOSEJOB from PICASSO.” That’s the most direct-from-Vince-McMahon-sounding joke to make the show since the last time somebody had bad breath. Orton throwing shade at Kevin Owens’ weight was also pretty bad, but mostly because Owens didn’t respond with, “Didn’t you spend your first few years here doing drugs and sh*tting in womens’ bags?”
Worst: Becky Lynch, You Take On BELLY
In this week’s Divas Revolution, the Submission Sorority is now “Team PCB” because nobody thought to google “submission sorority” and that was their only idea. Also, Brie Bella pins Tamina with a horrible rollup. We’re through the looking glass, people.
The Bella Twins are faces again, by the way. I don’t know. Brie does Daniel Bryan’s moves in Washington to a big reaction, and they build to Team Bella getting a hot tag even though 1) the Divas Revolution only exists as a way to oust the Bella Twins from power via vague, backhanded threats from Stephanie McMahon, and 2) Sasha Banks was getting big “Sasha” chants. Like I said, I don’t know. They go in and out of it. Are they only heels when they’re wrestling white girls?
That seriously might be it. The Bellas turn into heels again after the match, but only when Paige, Charlotte and Becky interfere to help run them off. Charlotte and Sasha have a brief staredown which is cool if you watch NXT, but has no context or relevance on Raw beyond “we’re on different teams.” We’re still just throwing these women into meaningless matches and asking them to compete for nothing, and at SummerSlam they’re all in a match together for the same. Can we just lie and say Nikki has already passed A.J. as the longest-reigning Divas Champion so we can stop loitering in the name of revolution and start wrestling for a reason?
Additional note: Team B.A.D. referring to the Bellas as “Kardashians” was also interesting, because it felt less like an insult and more like the Bellas wanting someone to compare them to Kardashians.
A supplemental Worst also goes to Michael Cole for saying the Divas Revolution will continue this week on Total Divas, which is both incredibly telling and super-depressing.
Worst: Alicia Fox’s Punches
Just wanted to quickly point this out, jump to the 1:20 mark in the video and keep your eyes on Alicia Fox. Normally I like her stuff a lot, but man, those are some of the worst strikes I’ve seen in a while. It’s like she forgot how to punch. She just kinda steps too hard and touches you with the inside of her forearm. Sasha has to sell it like she just took a Hulk Hogan back rake, and Brie has to not sell it because she’s on the same damn team.
Best Ever: The New Day
First, Hulu is dead to me for always cutting The New Day out of 90-minute Raws.
Second, The New Day’s on such a different level of wonderful right now I’m having trouble explaining it beyond, “Oh my God, look what they did!” Big E’s entrance skip had already started making my heart swell to the brink of bursting, and now he’s dancing on the corpses of his defeated opponents. Seriously, watch motherf*cking Epsilon get it while Woods and Kofi whip and nae nae in his armpits.
Third, Renee Young finds them backstage in the middle of a New Day-themed parody of 2 Live Crew’s ‘We Want Some P*ssy’ (seriously) (SERIOUSLY) and tells them the Tag Team Championship match they expected at SummerSlam now involves Los Matadores and the Lucha Dragons. They deal with is as positively as possible, take turns namedropping great black tag teams (Harlem Heat! Doom!) and clap it out with Renee.
I love them. I love them for real.
Best: Randy Orton, Wrestling’s Best Match-Ender
As mentioned, Triple H puts his eldest son (Randy Orton) in a match against his youngest son (Kevin Owens) for a chance to face his troubled middle child (Seth Rollins). There’s also a foreign-exchange student involved, but we don’t really care about him.
My favorite part of the match was the finish, partially because pop-up powerbomb counters are still fresh and exciting to me, but mostly because Randy Orton is the best wrestler in the business at ending matches. I’ve always said that Orton’s not over, the RKO is, and I stand by it. People LOVE the RKO. If Orton was still beating people with the Overdrive he’d be Mark Jindrak. Give him the Diamond Cutter, though, and he’s a 12-time World Champion and the Vegeta to John Cena’s Goku. Owens goes to powerbomb Cesaro, Cesaro vaults over him and Orton just kinda pops up from the bottom of the screen and RKOs Owens. The timing was great, and the RKO coming “from outta nowhere” always works best for me when they break from “WHOOPS, HE JUMPED AT ME WITH HIS HEAD OUT AND HIS ARMS BACK FOR SOME REASON” convention. It’s still pretty cool when they don’t.
The end result of Orton beating Owens and Cesaro is disappointing, especially when you find out it’s just an excuse to further the Orton/Sheamus feud, but at least we had fun doing it. The Orton/Owens relationship is starting to feel like Hogan/Kidman to me. Like, Cena’s OK putting this guy over for a minute and treating him like a threat, but Orton’s like, “nope, exploder, backbreaker, RKO, eat a salad.”
Cesaro should start calling his springboard European uppercut the “New York slice.”
Best: A 5-Minute Undertaker Video Package
I feel bad typing it because I just gave a Worst to a 5-minute Undertaker video package in the vintage Best and Worst of WWF Monday Night Raw, but this was a good one. WWE’s deepest commitment is constantly reiterating how special The Undertaker’s streak was, so they can still “have it” even though it’s over. It’s a good business decision, although them continuing to release special collector’s edition DVDs of it is a little much. This is the company that said Triple H and Undertaker was “the end of an era” and Rock/Cena was “once in a lifetime,” though, so what should we expect?
Honestly, you could put audio of Paul Heyman yelling stuff over clips of anything and I’d give it a Best. Like, film yourself throwing me down a flight of steps with Paul comparing himself to molten lava behind it and I’ll Best it from my hospital bed.
Best/Worst: Something For The Sake Of Something Something
Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper happens, and that’s not something I should feel apathetic about. Still, it’s just a placeholder thing (with another clean loss for Dean) to build to a tag-team match at SummerSlam. Nothing’s on the line, really. It’s billed as “family vs. family” — it’s actually “family in the Fast & Furious sense vs. a cult that’s not really organized anymore but sticking together for some reason,” but family vs. family works. It should be fun, though, like this was for a minute. They fought a little on the outside, and as soon as the crowd got into it they took it home. Leave them wanting more? I don’t know. I can never tell anymore if they want us to watch Raw or buy WWE Network, because it’s usually one or the other.
WWE needs a tough-love continuity master or whatever to keep their stories in order more than anything, but they also need a person dedicated to saying, “This is why the story’s over, and this is why we’ve moved on to the next thing.” Wrestlers get into these dramatic life or death beefs and then stuff just stops and changes. What’s the end game for Bray Wyatt? What’s he trying to accomplish? Seriously? It’s not a condemning of the wrestler or even the character, but I feel like he’d work 1,000 times better if he had a clear end goal. In NXT, the idea was that he wanted to bring down “the system,” and that when he got called up to the main roster he was going to bring down the biggest system of all. I was in the crowd at his last NXT show … it was like listening to a magnetic preacher. Now he’s just this boring, rambling guy who walks like a crab sometimes and … that’s it? He’s kidnapping people, but not really, and threatening peoples’ families, but not really, and he’s doing condescending collages on backstage room walls for people to find and be freaked out about, but he’s still wrestling and winning and losing matches like nothing matters. I don’t think every wrestler needs an elaborate reason for why they’re a wrestler, but when you’re a crazy supernatural character it’d at least be handy to say, “This is what I’m trying to do.” Kane didn’t show up and just say “I’m a fire guy” and get into feuds with Savio Vega. Undertaker was a zombie controlled by a millionaire. Motherf*cker had a purpose.
Best: Hating-Ass Lana Gets What She Deserves
Lana, a person who is happy to be free from her ex and absolutely loves Dolph Ziggler, sits in on commentary for her ex’s match. Stay with me here.
Rusev wrestles Mark Henry. Neither Rusev nor Hot Summer seem to care much that Lana’s there. As the match goes on, Summer Rae gets on the apron to cheer for Rusev. Now, that in itself could lead to a heel act, but nothing happens. She gets on the apron and yells for a second, and the referee heads over and tells her to get down. Before that can happen, Lana LEAVES COMMENTARY and pulls Summer off the apron. A totally unprovoked attack FROM BEHIND, from the babyface. Rusev yells at her for ruining his match, and Summer recovers enough to roll her in to face him. Watch the body language when Lana’s getting to her feet. Rusev is being intimidating, but Lana’s the one about to do something. Just before Summer jumps her, she’s moving forward like she’s going to slap him again.
The followup is what Lana deserves: Summer retaliating for the cheap shot, and Rusev doing the old Lana “CRUSH” thing so Summer can Accolade her to death. Now the story’s gonna be that Dolph needs to heroically return and stand up for her or whatever, when she’s the one who can’t stop turning it into a self-centered, physical confrontation. In a related note, Summer Rae’s camel clutch is dope.
Oh, and before I forget, Rusev now has a PERSONALIZED BULGARIAN FLAG.
Best: “How Bout That Flag Tho”
Who do I have to throw a fish at to get replica Rusev flags on WWE Shop?
Best: Daniel Bryan Clap Clap Clapclapclap
I’ve had the “Ugh, I wish Daniel Bryan would go away and stay off TV forever” conversation with a lot of people lately. I’m the one saying it. As I may have mentioned before, it’s a total Harry and the Hendersons “goodbye, my friend” thing. He’s my favorite wrestler and I love him and want the best for him. I want him to be healthy and happy and tweet about how great his wife did when she’s throwing phantom punches and CM Punk kicks. I don’t want to see him getting “yes” chants for sitting in a chair at Tough Enough, because it reminds me of the past year and a half of hoping and praying he’d suddenly say, “JUST KIDDING, I’M TOTALLY FINE” and Knee-Plus Seth Rollins into oblivion. It’s … probably not ever happening.
That said, him getting the same crazy amount of love he got in his prime from his hometown-ish crowd warmed my cold, black, smark heart and once again tricked me into believing. A few minutes into his appearance on Miz TV, my brain was like, “Oh man, he’s gonna take Miz to the woodshed for sh*t-talking the Intercontinental Championship, and we’re gonna get Miz vs. Bryan at SummerSlam instead of Show and the increasingly Akira-ish Ryback. This has all been a bad dream. I’m gonna blink my eyes and it’ll be April of 2014 again, The Shield will still be together and Daniel Bryan will be WWE World Heavyweight Champion.” Everything from Kane trying to kidnap Brie on has been a hippie freakout.
Even without that, and ignoring my selfish fan bullsh*t, it’s great to see him on WWE TV again, smiling and getting crazy chants. And hey, bonus points for them tying Bryan’s IC title injury, Ryback’s IC title injury and Miz’s relationship to both into one big story. Ryback returning and wrecking everybody while his old Nexus buddy directed traffic was a lot of fun, too, but I have two complaints.
Worst: Two Complaints
1. Show describing Miz as a “cross-dressing Jedi manure spreader” was written by the Picasso nosejob guy, right? Fire that guy.
2. When Bryan was pointing at Miz, it was to set up a Meathook, and not a running knee. He doesn’t have to be medically cleared to run a few feet and jump with his knee bent, does he? Does he? :(
Worst: King Barrett Loses Clean, Easily, To Set Up A King Barrett Pay-Per-View Match
Wade Barrett is an old pair of shoes. I’m not even elaborating on it. He’s shoes. Put an old pair of shoes in the ring and rest a crown on them and that’s what Wade Barrett’s bringing to the show.
Best: Stardust Was Once An Adventurer Like You, Then He Took An Arrow In The Knee
The post-match stuff is all that matters, with Arrow star and future Casey Jones in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 (the secret of the ooze?) Stephen Amell jumping in the ring and throwing hands with Stardust.
I don’t care about CW super hero shows even a little bit, but Amell hits a perfect guest star sweet spot. Sometimes you get a guest that legitimately loves WWE and/or pro wrestling, but they’re not an athlete. Jon Stewart’s a good example. Sometimes you get a great athlete who doesn’t care about wrestling at all, and is just there for publicity. Sometimes you get a guy like Bradley Cooper who isn’t an athlete AND doesn’t like wrestling, and he just walks out, says MY MOVIE’S COMING OUT, waves and bails. What works about Amell is that he’s a legitimate wrestling fan who wants to be here, and he’s an athlete, so what he does when he’s here looks good. Plus, he’s famous, but not famous, so he’s willing to mess around, get pie-faced or whatever and take some risks. It’s a perfect combination.
Plus, they managed to let him get over as an athlete AND as a personality in like a minute. Here he is standing up to Triple H while Neville stands between them looking like a lost child:
My only request is that he dresses like Arrow for the match, and that they go full Blood Runs Cold with it. The finish should be him shooting Cody with a boxing glove arrow. Also, Wade Barrett should have to wrestle the entire match as the Clock King.
Best: Another RKO, Because Why Not
Like most Randy Orton matches, the good work they do for 15 minutes doesn’t matter … it’s all about the finish, with Seth launching himself into a spectacular Jumping Nothing so Orton can snatch his flying edges and RKO him into dust. It was pristine and gorgeous, especially since it started like this:
Of course, you can’t have Seth Rollins defending the WWE World Heavyweight Championship without him being seconds away from helplessly losing until someone magically appears and saves him.
Worst: Sheamus, But More Specifically That Referee
Sheamus is a Flintstones push-pop in the body of a wrestler, so of course he spoils the main event and tries to cash in his Money in the Bank contract in the least effective, least believable way they’ve ever done it. Sheamus briefly (briefly) incapacitates Orton, the guy who was about to win the match, and is like YEAH, I’M GONNA CASH IN MONEY IN THE BANK RIGHT NOW, AND THERE’S NO WAY THAT GUY I’M FEUDING WITH WHO IS LYING LIKE 10 FEET AWAY FROM ME IS GONNA GET UP AND SPOIL IT.
He hands the referee the briefcase, and neither of them will let go. Sheamus is like CASH IT IN, I WANT TO CASH IT IN RIGHT NOW, YES, YES SIR, I WOULD LIKE TO CASH IN MONEY IN THE BANK RIGHT NOW. The referee appears to have no idea what he’s talking about, which would be a great story. “Oh, sorry, it’s my first day, I don’t know how it works.” They meander around with it long enough for Orton to get into position, and the fourth RKO of the night ruins it.
The announcers emphasize that the bell didn’t ring so it doesn’t count, but like … shouldn’t it? If Sheamus is all I’M CASHING THIS IN RIGHT NOW and gets beaten up before he gets a chance to say “no, I don’t actually want to cash it in right now,” shouldn’t the ref just ring the bell anyway? I know that’s nitpicking and there’s ridiculous precedent for it, but it sucks. The point of Money in the Bank is that there’s a great reward, but also a great risk. You can cash it in and lose, and you’re the world’s biggest chump. Damien Sandow, I’m looking in your direction. They should’ve rung the bell, Orton should’ve pulled Rollins over him and cost him the briefcase. If you don’t want to give Rollins a win, stomp Sheamus in the back of the head after it rings and cause a DQ. He still loses his shot. Hell, let Sheamus win it so you can get another WWE Championship shot at SummerSlam. You guys are feuding and he already ruined your championship match, you might as well do what’s Best For Business.
Anyway; wrestling, everybody.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
WWE: Straight Outta Ideas
Rollins to Cesaro to Owens to Orton is the de-evolution of pants.
That 50-50 remark about Cena at Summerslam just means he has a 50% chance of winning and a 50% chance of not losing.
Wait A Minute Rice
Much like the Raiders, Team BAD proudly reps black and silver and 1/3 of the team wouldn’t be on any other franchise’s active roster.
Darren Young looks a lot like Russel Wilson with that Seahawks hat on. Fun fact: Neither of them have any interest in having sex with Ciara.
The Real Birdman
Too bad your dad was in prison & couldn’t play catch with you Dean
Roman: how do I eat
Dean: sitting down
Roman: how do I read
Dean: with your eyes
Roman: Boom no way he could’ve known these things if we weren’t brothers
Sammy Davis Jr.
“Daniel, my wife is French and less annoying than yours. Explain.”
STEPHEN AMELL: KING OF STRONG STYLE
HHH: “Yeah, like I’m gonna book Barrett for SummerSlam.”
Thanks, everybody. See you next week, when The Flash shows up and tries to punch Goldust.