– This is how I watched this week’s show:
Somehow this didn’t translate into Raw being any good. I guess for the joke to work I have to be on an airplane, but unable to follow along with what’s happening?
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Please click through (or just scroll down) for the Best and Worst of WWE Raw 8/11/14.
Best: Paul Hey Ma
This week’s show begins with Paul Heyman rapping. No, I didn’t expect it. Yes, it’s currently #1 on my list of things I needed in my life but wasn’t aware I could have.
He’s a 15-time champ and he likes to have his fun,
But not at your expense, so let us school you, son.
No, we’re not from West Newbury, no we can’t hip hop like you.
My client is The Conqueror, I’m just Brock’s advocating Jew.
You see, my name is Paul Heyman, and my client is The Beast
And on the 17th of August, on your title he shall feast.
You don’t like Paul Heyman guys, you think their attitude’s too smug?
You gonna beat Brock’s ass ’cause you’re the doctor of the thugs?
I mean you’ve beaten all the best, but now Lesnar’s on your plate.
You say your time is now, Brock says your calendar is out of date.
So here’s some free advice, with Summerslam drawing near,
Get it out your damned system when you say “the champ is here.”
Because we’re six days away from the West Coast’s biggest arena,
Where my client, Brock Lesnar, will conquer John Cena.
The only thing that would’ve made it better is Brock F-5’ing Tha Trademarc.
Brock Lesnar’s not even fair at this point. He’s the strongest, most legit fighter in the company. He’s got the best accolades. He accomplished the best-possible WWE accomplishment this year AND he’s got the best talker in the history of wrestling talking for him. He’s that friend who says his super power is HAVING EVERY SUPER POwER when you’re trying to have fun. He’s Cartman as Bulrog.
Also, I’ll go ahead and throw out a supplemental Best for WWE and Paul Heyman not only acknowledging Cena and Lesnar’s Extreme Rules 2012 match, but giving Brock an alternately reasonable and cowardly excuse for why he lost. SUPER SUPPLEMENTAL BEST for Brock Lesnar’s I GOT HIT WITH A F*CKING CHAIN. This show would’ve been the best Raw ever if they’d completely abandoned the wrestling and just featured Paul Heyman wrestling, Brock Lesnar dropping F-bombs and the ruination of old peoples’ birthday parties.
Worst: What’s The Point Of A Non-Finish Built Around Injuring A Man’s Shoulder If The Man Immediately Comes Back And Injures YOU With His Shoulder?
Since The Shield breakup, Roman Reigns has been comfortably settling into his role as The New Sheamus; a popular, whitebread, unlikable babyface who on paper is a perfectly fine wrestler, but is micromanaged to death and never a threat to anyone MORE popular. You know the type. They show up, get cheered, call someone a bitch, do their moves all in a row in a way we expect and then disappear until next week. Last week was Roman’s first major step in this direction with an undeserved, come-from-behind win that required his opponent to be helpless at a moment’s notice. A win that ignores everything that actually happened in the match, or any understanding of how pain or drama work. A win for babies, basically. This week was major step two, with Roman being put into a 2-on-1 handicap match and coming out on top. At SummerSlam he takes step three, which is “have a boring match with Randy Orton.”
I’m trying not to turn on him too hard because I see what WWE’s doing, and they understand the business of creating marketable characters for their target audience. That’s a horrible sentence to write in a snarky wrestling recap. I should be like THIS IS STUPID AS BALLS, HERE’S SIX REASONS WHY, but it’s the truth. You have to make a guy boring and crazy predictable and into saying awkward things like “a snake with its teeth knocked down its throat is a worm” or it’s too much work. Wrestling fans want clear classifications like COWBOY or FAT GUY. They don’t necessarily want “former mercenary swat guy who got slowly more and more confident during a year of killer six-man tags against top-level WWE talent and used the fracturing of the group to feud his friends against one another and quietly take a step forward into main-event singles competition.” I think that’s a better character, but I like Heath Slater more than CM Punk, so what the shit do I know.
Worst: Believe thaaaaAAAT~!
Roman isn’t going to get any better if we don’t give him mic time. Right now it looks like “Sting promo” is about as good as he’s gonna get. Sting promos were always total garbage, but we loved Sting and were excited to hear whatever he had to say. He’d just say “I’ve got a match with you. It’s showtime!” and then he’d put his hands over his mouth like a vagina and scream. I never cared that he had the conversational ability of a Teddy Ruxpin. He was Sting.
That’s gotta be Roman’s niche. In The Shield, he was the punctuation guy. The one who’d stand in the background looking like a handsome prince while Ambrose set us up and Rollins got us anxious for the promo to end. Then Reigns would step in, say one coolish thing and go “believe in The Shield.” That was it. It worked well for him, because he’s a human punctuation mark. It’s why his only moves are a Superman Punch, an apron dropkick and a spear … all moves that involve him building up momentum and suddenly stopping. He’s not gonna trade catch-as-catch-can wristlocks, and in the same vein should not be giving Renee tons of breathless exposition to set up a fight that just needs “I’m gonna RUN INTO YOU and IT’S GONNA SUCK FOR YOU.”
If you missed Roman’s post-match promo, you can watch that here.
Best: Seth Rollins Deserves An Award For Outstanding Achievement In The Field Of Carrying Rob Van Dam
Rob Van Dam’s back to moving around and looking like me when I try to get out of bed in the morning, but Seth Rollins has earned a black belt in carrying him, so this was pretty fun. I’m contractually obligated now to only say nice things about Van Dam, so I’ll say, “wouldn’t it be nice if you took your few months off now and went and hung out on a beach for a while? You know, a beach with a barber, a men’s clothing store and a bunch of vegetables.”
Best: Predictable Subterfuge Dean Ambrose
The highlight, of course, was Dean Ambrose doing the world’s worst job of planning a sneak attack and somehow still getting away with it. Dude just straight-up wrapped himself in a man-sized present on the stage and sat there all afternoon so he could get the jump on Rollins. It’s the same logic that saw him lie around in a trunk for two hours. Rollins walked up the ramp backwards, man. You could’ve just waited until then and ran out and attacked him. You didn’t have to be a birthday present, sit on stage in total darkness, wait for him to figure it out, trick him into thinking he’s paranoid when you don’t attack him right away, then spring out with tons of noise and fan cheers to get 0.5 seconds of a jump on him the moment before he leaves. THINK THESE THINGS THROUGH, DEAN.
You are worse at being sneaky than Abdullah the Butcher, and he was a 400-pound bleeding man who loved to stab people.
Worst: Claire Lynch, Physical Therapist
Okay, take it home, Brie Bella angle.
This is one of those things where the payoff is pretty good, but accomplishes nothing. Seriously, what’d it accomplish? Making us think Stephanie McMahon’s mean and manipulative? Weren’t we on board with that a decade ago? The problem (from my perspective) of this entire angle is how unlikable Brie Bella’s been, and how I’m not gonna cheer for the hateful, entitled model when the princess of a pro wrestling dynasty is hossy as f*ck, ripped to shreds and throwing ass-wobble pedigrees.
Best: Stephanie McMahon Selling Brie Bella’s Horrible Attempt At A Submission
Brie has no idea what she’s doing. Stephanie had to watusi around in a circle for 30 seconds waiting to be taken down, and when it didn’t happen she just flopped to the ground. Then Brie kinda lazily puts her leg on Stephanie’s arm and holds her around the chin. It makes Cena’s STF look like a Ronda Rousey armbar. Still, though, Stephanie sells it like she’s in a Saw trap.
Best: This Dumb Happenstance Immediately Going In The Direction It Should
On a scale of zero to zero, how badly do you feel for Brie Bella?
Okay, let me recap exactly what happened here. The Authority didn’t want Daniel Bryan to be WWE World Heavyweight Champion, so when he found out he had a broken neck and was gonna miss time, they wanted the belts back. Bryan wouldn’t give them up because The Authority had given him such a hard time, so Stephanie threatened to fire Bryan’s wife (Brie Bella) if he didn’t. Bryan refused, but Brie quit before Stephanie could fire her and slapped her in the face. Bryan gave up the belts anyway, because he’s f*cking hurt. Stephanie decided to take out her frustrations on the most closely-related person to the situation still employed and coming to work every day — Brie’s dopey sister Nikki. Nikki seemed oddly fine with it, but Brie kept showing up and making things worse. Brie gets ringside seats for Raw, Stephanie confronts her and ends up slapping her. Because Brie is no longer a WWE employee and just a fan, she files charges against Stephanie and Steph goes to “prison.” To get the charges dropped, Stephanie agrees to give Brie her job back and face her at SummerSlam with … nothing really on the line. If Brie wins, Stephanie’s still her and Bryan and Nikki’s boss and can do whatever she wants, but stay with me here.
Stephanie brings a woman named Megan Miller into the ring. Megan is Daniel Bryan’s physical therapist. Stephanie very clearly goads Megan into saying she and Bryan had an affair, which brings out Brie. Now, in 100% of real-life universes, Brie would go “yeah right” and throw hands at Stephanie. Because she is the DUMBEST FICTIONAL CHARACTER IN THE WORLD, she slaps a civilian, jumps Stephanie and assumes nothing bad will happen. Stephanie, BECAUSE THIS WAS THE ENTIRE PLAN TO ANYBODY WITH THE MENTAL CAPACITY TO WALK UPRIGHT, goes “whoops, Megan Miller presses charges” and a crying Brie Bella gets taken away in a cop car.
So who do I cheer for NOW? The evil character, or the STUPID evil character? They’re both into blackmail and striking non-wrestlers. Do I cheer for Nikki? At least she’s trying to come to wrestling shows and wrestle matches. At least SHE isn’t taking up 15 minutes of TV time with bad horror acting and speeches about the boner-causing powers of physical therapy. I’m just proud of WWE for sticking to the laws of their universe for once and not letting Cole’s incessant YA CAN’T BLAME BRIE BELLA be an excuse to ignore them.
Best: 11 Extra Minutes Of Cesaro
As I probably type too often, I don’t (usually) care who wins or loses a match if the match is good. If Daniel Bryan and Sheamus had actually wrestled at WrestleMania and Sheamus had won with the same Brogue Kick From Outta Nowhere I would’ve been disappointed, but FAN disappointed, not PERSON disappointed. Those are very different things. So yeah, as a fan I’m not happy to see Cesaro still losing to whoever’s getting a push this week on Raw, but this week’s loss to Jack Swagger was about 11 minutes longer and 100% better than his two minute fart-loss to Ziggler, so I’m gonna praise it.
It wasn’t a barnburner, but it was a good match. Cesaro going after Swagger’s taped-up torso was great, with him modifying his offense around it. The push-off into the knee to the stomach instead of a European uppercut was awesome. So were his repeated abdominal stretches, with him trying to tear off the tape with his teeth. My only two complaints were:
1. Swagger winning with an instant critical submission ankle lock despite not doing one other thing to Cesaro’s ankle, and
2. Michael Cole’s overuse of the phrase “creates separation.” He has no idea what it means. Swagger counters an abdominal stretch into a side-slam, and on the way down Cole’s like SWAGGER CREATES SEPARATION HERE. He’s holding him in his armpit, dude, how separate do they look? I wish he’d yelled STEPHANIE MCMAHON CREATING SEPARATION HERE when she accused Daniel Bryan of adultery.
Best: Bray Wyatt And Chris Jericho Have A Tense Conversation In A Eye Doctor’s Waiting Room
I’m not sure this promo accomplished anything, but it was great to see Wyatt getting to be in character outside of his dark TitanTron room or those gaspy in-ring speeches. He’s fantastic at being Bray Wyatt, so simply observing him and letting him exist in proximity to other people is entertaining. Also, HELLO AGAIN “BEST IN THE WORLD AT WHAT I DO” CHRIS JERICHO. It’s been a while! Him sitting still in a suit and making an angry duck face is the most I’ve liked him in like four years.
Also, I’m happy that Jericho isn’t playing up Wyatt like some world-changing thing. Cena got melodramatic about it, talking about how he had to win a cage match to prevent Wyatt’s message from “spreading around the world.” Cena was like, “if I don’t win this match, CHILDREN WILL DIE.” Jericho’s just sick of Wyatt’s assumptive shit and wants to kick his ass. That’s a much better story. Point A to Point B, with no sassy-singing child actors in-between.
Worst: AJ Falls Victim To Eva Marie’s Devastating Finisher
NXT superstar Eva Marie had two spectacularly incompetent moments last night.
1. She’s wrestling AJ and Paige shows up to skip around the ring and cause a distraction. Eva gets a flash pin on AJ, starts gator rolling to the right until she’s out of the ring, then IMMEDIATELY goes into a victory pose. She turns and does her full “blow a kiss” animation without any regard for what’s happening. She’s a Teselecta. She’s gotta be. Just a fleshy robot being piloted by a miniaturized Ashley Massaro.
2. During Hulk Hogan’s birthday party, guests keep showing up and making entrances. Ric Flair, Paul Orndorff, Piper, Hall and Nash … every time they do, the wrestlers gathered on the stage smile and happily clap for them. Then BROCK LESNAR shows up to ruin things, and everyone’s in stunned awe … except for Eva Marie, who smiles and claps her hands because she thinks Brock Lesnar is a guest.
Five stars. Never change.
Best: Paige Goes Full Snitsky
Paige probably shouldn’t have prepared a condescending heel poem on the same night Paul Heyman spit hot fire, but (somewhat predictably) I loved it. Poems where the person has developed a convoluted rhyme scheme for absolutely no reason are wonderful … wood chips are beige? I feel like “Paige” was the more direct rhyme for “stage,” but whatever.
I’d put it third on my list of favorite all-time, non-Genius WWE heel poems. Number one in a walk is The Big Boss Man’s apology poem for Big Show, featuring the immortal diss, “But if I could have a son as stupid as you, I’d have wished for cancer so I would die too.” Number two is Snitsky’s wedding poem for Edge and Lita, featuring “It’s not my fault the things that love can do to us, just like it’s not my fault you had a dead baby in your uterus.” Honestly, super offensive dickhead heel poems are the one thing I miss from non-TV-PG WWE. Well, that and blood.
Worst: If This House Belongs To Me, I Really Need To Move
I spent all night trying to figure out what Cena’s promo reminded me of, and it was this: a child who can’t properly express himself yelling at a TV and challenging a bunch of people who aren’t listening to him. It’s got an extraneous “bitch” at the end and everything.
GEDIDAGETHER BROCK, STOP HUDDALLING.
If you missed it, here’s what you need to know:
– John Cena is ready for SummerSlam
– John Cena will win at SummerSlam
– Some of y’all like him and some of y’all don’t and that’s okay
– The WWE Universe is the only important thing ever
– Brock Lesnar is a bitch for having a disease
I bet you couldn’t have guessed those things BEFORE listening to him talk for 15 minutes.
Best: The Miz Calls Michael Cole On His Bullshit
One of the major, unexpected highlights of Raw happened during the Heath Slater/Dolph Ziggler match, and I’m glad they included it in the WWE Fan Nation video. The Miz is standing on the announce table providing a mild distraction for Ziggler and Cole won’t stop questioning him about Cleveland and Hollywood. Cole scoffs and says they’re naming a tennis court after him. Miz’s response is AMAZING: “You know you used to be my biggest cheerleader, you used to sit there and stand up and clap when I came out, now what happened to you? I brought you all the way to WrestleMania where you went 1-0 against Lawler.” Cole tries to jump in with a shitty, “I GOT SMART,” but Miz buries it. It’s such an accurate burn that Lawler, king of talking about Anything Else, says he wishes they’d call the match.
Best: The Heath Slater Winning Streak Continues
I don’t know if it’s got any legs, but HOLY CRAP am I loving the light focus on Heath Slater. The guy spent the last four years being the jobber who could make anyone look good. He made Big Show’s hammy slow-punch look like a freight train. He did a headstand to sell a Clothesline From Hell. He wrestled Vader and Sycho Sid and Doink and whoever else they needed him to to build to Raw 1000. He turned a heel stable with JINDER MAHAL into one of the funniest things in the world, made it subversively popular and spent six months diving through whatever table or ladder contraption he could find to get a midget blood feud over. When he lost two of his 3MB, he paired up with Titus O’Neil and is managing to save him from the extinction of an abandoned solo heel run. Dude’s wearing a cowboy hat and cutting promos about pugs on The JBL and Cole Show. HE IS MY FAVORITE WRESTLER AND SHUT UP, I WANT TO SEE HIM WIN WRESTLINGS.
A huge supplemental Worst to Dolph Ziggler for responding to Slater’s post-match Code of Honor handshake by attacking him. Slater was just stretching his leg, he wasn’t trying to kick anybody. It was a hard match! Your hammies get tight.
Best: Weird Al On Raw
Can we get Weird Al a guest hosting spot on Raw? Better yet, can we get Al to host Raw and have him whip up parody version of WWE themes? He writes a lot of songs about food, maybe “too many limes” could become part of WWE continuity. If nothing else, use it as an excuse to give Judy Tenuta a rollup victory over AJ.
Best: Randy Orton Gets Punished By Being Put Into A Match Against Sheamus, Punks Sheamus
Because Kane is the most harmless and neutered character in the WWE Universe, he puts Randy Orton into a match against Sheamus. He says The Authority wants to make sure Orton’s ready for Roman Reigns at SummerSlam. They treat it like he’s gonna get his ass kicked or like there are some odds to overcome, but it’s the heel equivalent of putting Cena or Reigns against Kane … you’re “challenging” and “punishing” a guy by putting him in a wrestling match against a guy he beats almost 100% of the time.
Sure enough, Orton goes out there and skunks Sheamus, countering a top rope shoulderblock into a BOSS RKO for the victory. Not just a boss RKO, either, but an RKO into the DOVES TAUNT, which is a Randy Orton thing that needs to happen more.
Orton will probably always be the Salieri to Cena’s Mozart, but he has moments of true brilliance. I kinda hope he skunks Reigns in the same way at SummerSlam. Roman should spend five minutes doing elaborate taunts and howls to set up a Superman Punch and then cross-legged jump right into an RKO. And then SO MUCH POSING SHOULD HAPPEN.
So, Hulk Hogan had a birthday party. It was less a “party” and more “young wrestlers stand over here, old wrestlers stand shoulder-to-shoulder over here.” It was great nostalgia for people who have not been mainlining pro wrestling for the last 30+ years and get joy out of seeing these old guys who keep showing up.
The highlight for me was the return of Paul Orndorff’s entrance theme, which I will be singing for the next six months. It’s the thinking man’s “Real Man’s Man.”
The longer you listen to it, the funnier it gets. Also funny: Mr. Wonderful wearing a polo shirt under his sparkly jacket.
Worst: Please Keep Kevin Nash Away From Me At All Times
So, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash show up to participate in the nWo reunion we’ve been hearing so much about, and it’s fine. Hall does his catchphrases, Hogan rips off his red and yellow to reveal a black and white nWo shirt underneath, and the dangerous, game-changing faction that powered wrestling’s most successful boom period in history has officially been reduced to a palette swap. Kevin Nash sings happy birthday and doesn’t take it seriously, because he’s Kevin Nash, and Kevin Nash is basically a 7-foot tall mashup of Joey Gladstone and Uncle Jesse.
It’s good if you like seeing things you remember. I’m just sad they didn’t bring in the ENTIRE nWo. Where’s Horace Hogan? Where’s Stevie Ray? I know Michael Wallstreet’s back there somewhere. Basically what I’m getting at is if Buff Bagwell and Scott Norton show up on Raw anytime soon I’m gonna lose it.
Worst: This Didn’t End Like I Wanted It To End
So, with the approval of Eva Marie, Brock Lesnar shows up. Party’s over, Grandpa.
One of two things should’ve happened:
1. CM Punk should’ve jogged down to the ring, rolled in, been immediately powerbombed by Kevin Nash, rolled out and jogged to the back, never to be heard from again.
2. Lesnar should’ve left this gaggle of old people in pile of blood and urine and vomit and tanner and tearaway t-shirts. Cena should’ve shown up 10 minutes too late and found Brock drinking blood out of Jimmy Hart’s skull.
Instead, Brock presents a tangible threat and then just stands around doing nothing until Cena shows up. Cena runs him off, but nothing really happens. That’s Raw in a nutshell, lately. The promise of excitement, a bunch of stalling, and people you want to see fight going YEAH WE’RE GONNA FIGHT and just playing grab-ass. After the show went off the air, the birthday party continued and Undertaker did spinaroonies, or whatever they do when the show’s done. Apparently it’s happening on the WWE Network, but I don’t know how much that is or how much it costs.
Think about how many people would’ve paid $10 bucks for your pay-per-view if Raw’d gone off the air with a decapitated Jimmy Hart, though.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
Cena’s new shirt represents blood, urine and vomit.
Curtis Axel trash talks like someone from an 80’s Michael Jackson video. Sad.
The Perfect Tim
It makes sense that Corporate Kane is back now. I bet HR has a TON of paperwork to get through this week.
AJ Hawk’s kid: “Daddy, why is that orange man so bad at pretending to punch someone?”
AJ Hawk: “Um…”
AJ Hawk: “Also, why are all the other wrestlers in this clip dead, they wouldn’t be that old, would they?”
AJ Hawk: /types “song from Frozen” in to youtube search bar
CUT THE MUSIC
“I am Bray Wyatt, eater of worlds, hogger of conversations”
If they cut to a live shot of Paul and Brock sitting at a table at Jimmy John’s right now…this will all be worth it.
“Let’s Be Cops” sounds like TNA’s renewal negotiation with Spike.
Justin Credible Hulk
So Brie went from “dead fish” to “fresh fish” in 45 minutes
I’m hoping for a segment where Brie escapes jail via twin magic.
*The video ends with “Hulk Hogan 1953-2014″. Hulk looks confused only to have Brock Lesnar murder him on the spot.*
Thanks, everybody. Share the column and spread the word. See you this weekend for our SummerSlam festivities, and during the week if you watch NXT and are cooler than other people.