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The Best And Worst Of WWE Raw 10/14/13: The Ecstasy Of Goldust

Pre-show notes:

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– If you like the Raw column, here are some others you might like: NXT, Impact, Total Divas and Nate Birch’s Saturday slideshow-tastic Smackdown version.

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Please click through for the Best And Worst Of WWE Raw for October 14, 2013.



Worst: Hey Shawn, Learn How Slang Works

You wouldn’t be “H-B-Shizzle.” Your name isn’t “Heartbreak Shawn.” The idea is that the “izzle” follows the first letter in the world you’re replacing, like when Snoop Dogg says “Snoop Dizzle” or “Snoop D-O-double-jizzle.” If you’re so in love with that antiquated white guy joke, call yourself “H-B-Kizzle.”

Worst: I Hope You Enjoyed That Week Off, Brandon, Here’s Two ‘Guy Gets Distracted By Someone Not In The Match’ Matches In A Row

Last week I wrote up The Best and Worst of WWE Battleground but handed the Raw report off to comedian Joe Starr, thinking that would constitute some sort of “vacation.” When a PPV happens and necessitates two Best and Worst columns be written in the span of about 12 hours it can be tough on me, and with there being three WWE pay-per-view events in the span of about a month and a half, I decided not to bruise my brain until I was just ragging on Divas matches and giving star ratings. “I’ll take a week away from Raw,” I thought. “When I come back everything will be fresh, and I’ll be happy to write about it.”

Spoiler alert: this is the same episode of Raw I wrote about two weeks ago.
Additional spoiler alert: this might be next week’s Raw, too.

The show began with WWE Hall of Famer Trevor Phillips announcing nothing in particular (I think “I’ll do nothing, ON PURPOSE” was his major talking point) only to be interrupted by Randy Orton, who he no-sold completely before threatening to kick him once and send him packing. That bled into a match between Orton and the Miz, and while the match itself was perfectly acceptable, it did feature two things I really dislike:

1. that finish where a guy gets distracted by something happening outside of the ring and gets instantly Critical’d by something
2. The Miz

They followed THAT up with a Santino vs. Fandango match where the finish was Santino going for the Cobra, missing, being distracted by Summer Rae (read: something happening outside of the ring) and getting Critical’d be a roll-up. So within the first 20 minutes of Raw we’ve gotten not only the show’s most tired trope but two of them, plus a thing where a guy who is never on the show is tougher and cooler and more important than the guy who is always there.

So, welcome back, I suppose. If you need me, I’ll be pressing my face into the dry erase board until one of them breaks.

Best: Bray Wyatt Perfects The Anti-Miz Sentiment

The highlight of the opening match — and quite possibly the highlight of the Miz’s entire career, ignoring the ‘Hate Me Now’ video they did for him at WrestleMania 27 — was Bray Wyatt and Bray Wyatt’s deeply-bruised thigh appearing in a rocking chair and succinctly explaining Miz with a grace and way-with-words I could never touch: “You are the epitome of everything I loathe about this world, Miz.”

Of course, it’s hard to get excited about the Wyatt Family killing The Miz. Remember what happened the last time they focused on a guy and decided to take him out? It was Kofi Kingston. They beat him within an inch of his life at Battleground, and then there he is the next night on Raw, hoppin’ around with some gently-used ribs. He’s totally fine. You didn’t DO anything to him, Bray. And yeah, I want you to bash Miz’s head between the steps and remove him from my televised wrestling program, but you’re one for two in effective pest removal and I’m not confident in that percentage.

I just wish he would’ve followed that loathing sentence with, “you remind me of my brother.”

Best: The Expanded WWE Universe

One thing I noticed as I was watching Fandango wrestle Santino Marella is how differently NXT has made me think of Summer Rae. If I only watched Raw, she’d be the blonde girl who dances with Fandango, occasionally tries to distract somebody on the apron and can’t do the splits. That’d be it. I wouldn’t have a single reason to give a shit about her. She’s just the Diva who replaced Fandango’s original, far-superior dance partner.

But I follow NXT closely, and if WWE is a “Universe,” developmental constitutes the expanded universe. Because of that I know all ABOUT Summer. About how entitled she is, about how much she values her appearances on Raw and uses them as leverage over the girls she trains with, about her friends and her enemies and her entrance theme and her moveset. There’s so much to know about her. It’s like Boba Fett. Summer Rae is Raw’s Boba Fett. These Fandango matches where he lives or dies based on purposeful count-outs and happenstance distractions are the Sarlacc Pit.

Another example of the expanded universe improving the WWE experience is the mention of Xavier Woods and his petition to help out the Big Show. The announcers mention him (once again establishing that NXT is canon and a thing that exists in WWE, despite the inconsistencies) and JBL’s all WHO THE HELL IS XAVIER WOODS MAGGLE. If you only watch Raw, you’d have the same reaction. “Who the hell is Xavier Woods?” If you follow the expanded universe, you know that Woods is a borderline-stereotypical black guy who also happens to be getting his PhD and also is sometimes into cartoons and Super Sentai shows. He just had beef with a South African hunter. And whether you like him or not, his name recognition on the big leagues A-show is exciting because it pulls those strings of continuity and nuance together and makes both shows better. Knowing about NXT also gives you insight to JBL’s ignorance, because he was JUST put into the NXT General Manager position by Triple H and clearly gives no f*cks about the personnel or the people he’s in charge of. It’s delightful, and this is coming from a dude who wishes Xavier Woods would get “called up” to a spaceship and fired into the sun.

For the first time in 30 years I understand why I’d want to read a Star Wars novel. That one lady Jedi in the background is probably the best one, right?

Worst: Were Los Matadores Specifically Hired To Wrestle 3MB Or What

Two weeks ago on Raw, Los Matadores debuted and defeated 3MB. Later that week on Smackdown, Los Matadores defeated 3MB. The next week on Raw, Los Matadores defeated 3MB. This week on Raw, Los Matadores defeated 3MB.

Aside from a match on Smackdown last week where they defeated Los Locales (who, let’s be honest, were probably just Heath Slater and Drew McIntyre under masks) Los Matadores have been around for two weeks and have wrestled 3MB four times. I know I give WWE a lot of grief for running and re-running the same matches on every show, but Jesus Christ, this is reaching critical mass. Were they hired specifically to run 3MB out of WWE? If you’re gonna run this on every f*cking episode can you at least take my jokey advice and put 3MB into different gimmicks so it doesn’t SEEM like the same thing every time? Los Matadores defeat this familiar-looking team of sailors! Los Matadores get a big win over some EVIL RUSSIANS in MASKS. YEAH.

Best: I Cannot Not Like El Torito

That said, I am still basically in love with Mascarita Dorada as a miniature bull and living exclamation point. Having him assist in the double-team Samoan drop gave it a Shield-style “big finish” feel, and I’d love it if we built up enough teams with triple finishers and actually ran some sort of King of Trios in WWE.

You know, even if Los Matadores defeated 3MB in rounds 1 through 3.


Best/Worst: Not Sure If Good Segment Or Triple H Being A Cool Heel Again

Here’s what went down:

I want to give this a Best and a Worst at the same time, and I need to explain myself thoroughly so you don’t think I’m arbitrarily assigning these based on what I assume I like.

These are clearly the roles Stephanie McMahon and Triple H were born to play. Stephanie McMahon is a cold, heartless businesswoman who will get all bent out of shape if you “mention her children” or whatever, but that’s secretly because she needs to raise them as backup kidneys. She is so used to spinning things to explain herself that she doesn’t even know what’s true anymore … she sincerely believes the bullshit that comes out of her mouth about doing what’s best for business and for her husband because, well, she spent her (kayfabe and canon) childhood being whored out to businessmen and being kidnapped by evil zombie morticians who want to Black Marry her and burn her teddy bears. She is in this more than anybody and if you got her out of the wrestling business she’d be Chance from Being There, just wandering around mumbling shit and being taken in by strangers.

Triple H is learned evil. He is obsessed with his own narrative, rewriting things so that he “ruled the Attitude Era with an iron fist” and is the most legendary WWE champion of all time, even though nobody f*cking considers Triple H the greatest anything of anything. He was Shawn Michaels’ friend, got to lead the shitty back-up D-Generation X, became the fifth most important guy on the popular version of the show behind Austin, Rock, Foley and McMahon and then systematically buried and emasculated every popular wrestler of a generation to become the King of Kings on a sinking ship. The one mid-card guy he sincerely worked to put over and lost to cleanly at a WrestleMania turned out to be a murderer. WHOOPS. Now he’s the less-important Vince McMahon, repeatedly inserting himself into these “legacy” feuds against guys like Brock and Undertaker as though they’re fighting to be the “best ever” while every reasonable choice for best ever is either feeble (Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart), retired with semi-working body parts (Austin, Michaels), 800 years old (Bruno, also Hulk Hogan) or off somewhere taking a nation’s worth of steroids to drive a car in a movie (The Rock). He’s not even the most important guy still around. Taker’s still around, and Cena’s more important to history and the box office than both of them. So here he is, having slept and friended his way into a position of power, desperately trying to control that power while the actual important powerful person (Vince) is off somewhere doing God knows what.

So those are strong, strong Bests. At the same time … objectively this is still a segment where Triple H refuses to show vulnerability. He got knocked out last week, so his response is “I’m totally fine, the Internet was lying about me, it doesn’t matter.” It’s to set up something — specifically Show’s appearance in the main event, and whatever else they come up with — but it hits all the regular TRIPLE H IS BEING A HORRIBLE DUDE buttons in my brain. He just can’t ever lose. He loses moments, but wins stories. Nobody ever shows up to summarize it and say “you lost” and send H flying into the sky in a gleam of light like Team Rocket. That should probably happen once during his entire f*cking career.

Best: Alberto Del Rio Preemptively Shuts Up Sarcastic Susan

Daniel Bryan tried to interrupt the moment but was attacked from behind by Alberto Del Rio to set up a match later in the show. I’m a pretty important guy in the wrestling writing world, so I was able to get a transcript of the promo Bryan was going to cut. Here it is:

“Sooooo … the Big Show punched you and you’re okay? That’s GOOD. GOOD FOR YOU. ISN’T THAT GOOD, EVERYBODY? EVERYBODY IN THE AUDIENCE, ISN’T IT GOOD THAT TRIPLE H IS FINE? SO GOOD. SO GOOD. I should be WWE Champion” and then it says “say yes until somebody turns off the cameras” in parenthesis.

I don’t want to hear Daniel Bryan talk the same amount I want to see him wrestle.

Best: Shell Shocked Without The Marching

Yes. Do it exactly like this forever.

Worst: Beat The Clock

Seriously, guys, there has got to be a better wrestler you can shoehorn into stuff than R-Truth. The guy is just abysmal and you took away the invisible child that had somehow miraculously connected him with the crowd. He’s just a guy with braids in his hair doing the one rap song he got over several years past its prime. He is Coolio, basically. You are letting COOLIO wrestle on your shows.

There is no reason why it should’ve taken Ryback six minutes to beat R-Truth. This is the guy who used to beat MULTIPLE opponents in under a minute. Now he’s struggling, doing a bunch of schoolboy roll-ups against a 40+-year old under-carder? This is the guy you’re sending into matches with CM Punk every month? Ryback’s the most fascinating current case of WWE clearly and openly snipping a wrestler’s balls every time he starts to get some traction. He got over killing jobbers, so they had him losing to low blows. He got over as a bully and you had him lose like a SUPER CHUMP to John Cena en route to losing via CRYING to The Miz. He got over as THE BIG GUY (at least with me) and … uh, he’s losing to low blows. And he’s doing schoolboys to R-Truth. What is wrong with you.

Here’s how you book this match: Ryback comes in confidently and murders Truth with some stuff. Big clothesline, powerslam, whatever. Truth shows some guts by kicking out, but at like the two minute mark Ryback puts him down with something and wins. That way when it’s time to do Punk vs. Axel, Punk’s gotta get in a bunch of furious, exciting offense right away and is at a huge disadvantage because he’s facing a guy his size. Punk scrambles, gets in a lucky kick a few seconds before the timer goes off and wins. Now you’ve got everyone excited, Ryback doesn’t have to look like an ineffectual putz and you kept both your R-Truth and Curtis Axel matches under two minutes.

Worst: Curtis Axel’s Effort Wasn’t Much Better

Would it kill you to just let CM Punk be the Intercontinental Champion? If he’s not gonna be in the WWE Championship picture for a while and is gonna beat Curtis Axel on the reg, can he just get the belt in the process and make it look like it means something? Those belts don’t make people important anymore. You have to give them to important people for a while, let THEM make it important, and then give it back to the Axels. Kofi Kingston and Dean Ambrose trading US title wins or whatever is the most pointless f*cking thing on the planet.

Worst: CM Punk, Stupidest Guy On The Show

Hey look, it’s the return of my least favorite story tentpole: the babyface who wins the ability to pick the stipulation for his match and picks something difficult for himself. Remember when Alberto Del Rio got to pick a stipulation and picked a ladder match, even though he was going up against two other guys who’d won Money in the Bank matches? Yeah, earlier in the show Paul Heyman recommends it be CM Punk vs. Ryback and Curtis Axel in a handicap match. Punk wins Beat the Clock and picks ALSO A HANDICAP MATCH, with Ryback teaming up with Heyman instead of Axel.

Dude, you get to pick ANYTHING. You didn’t get “change the pre-existing stipulation slightly” for Beating The Clock. You could say “CM Punk vs. Ryback in a submission match because Ryback’s never done a submission in his life, with Paul Heyman suspended above the ring in a shark cage, and when I win I get to beat the shit out of him with a cane for as long as I want with the Hell in a Cell lowered around us so nobody can interfere and he can’t run.” Anything like that. Say you want a match where Heyman is tied to the ring post like a pig at a luau so you can wander over and kick him in the face every time you’ve got the offensive advantage. Make it a career-threatening match where if Heyman’s guy loses, all the Heyman guys are fired so you’ve got a clear shot at him. ANYTHING. Just THINK ABOUT IT for FIVE F*CKING SECONDS before you blurt out SAME MATCH.


Best: It’s Time To Just Shut Up And Support The Tea Party

A couple of things:

1. Tensai continues to be the most underrated guy on Raw.

2. I have given up on the “why are you chanting WE THE PEOPLE with them, they are the racist weirdo bad guys” talking point and have decided to just shut up and love the Real Americans.

It makes sense. I love Jack Swagger because of his potential, his occasionally-brilliant in-ring work and my extensive collection of Jack Swagger science-fiction fan-fic. I love Antonio Cesaro because I have eyeballs and ears and a basic understanding of how life works and can see him lifting fat dudes and throwing around people with the power of ten men. I even like Zeb because his pre-match promos are guaranteed to make me laugh with their absurd points of view. They wear Gadsden flags like superhero capes. They have a signature hand gesture and catchphrase and their music is the most fun song to hum. They’re the best, and f*ck WWE for making the exclusionary conservative tag team so wonderful, but here we are.

I thought this match was going to exist so Cesaro could giantly swing Brodus Clay around, and was pleasantly surprised when he won with a baller Neutralizer. He should be doing that more. I also like how excited he was getting everybody at the prospect of a giant swing, even if WWE should maybe-probably back up from that a step and stop wearing out its welcome. Let it be something we look forward to, not something we expect. If Santino only did the Cobra every now and then, we’d probably mark the hell out for the cobra. Treat the giant swing like Kenta Kobashi’s burning hammer. Big shows and big moments. Don’t treat it like the independent wrestling burning hammer, which is “any time we’re wrestling and I think about lifting somebody.”

Worst: Michael Cole Thinks A Fisherman Suplex Is A T-Bone Suplex

I think it was technically a sidewalk slam.

Worst: 100% Chance Big E Langston Could Do A Better Superfly Splash

Firstly, though Brie Bella has gotten about a thousand times better in the last few months, every second of hard work was negated by her appearance later in the show and I’ll get to that.

Secondly, no amount of Diva effort is going to make Tamina Snuka better in the ring. She’s currently WWE’s Beth Phoenix character, the woman who does not look like a model and has some muscles and is therefore an “actual wrestler” to people on the Internet and a “tough Diva” to WWE even though she is absolutely garbage in the ring. Don’t be fooled by the pleasant idea of the Divas division featuring a wide variety of body types and personalities … it’s a wonderful dream, but ultimately it always settles on the same four characters they know how to write, three of whom are bikini models.

But yeah, Tamina Snuka could be Eddie Guerrero during the match and I’d cast her into the pits of Worst for her Superfly Splash, which makes CM Punk’s Macho Man elbow drop look like Macho Man’s Macho Man elbow drop. I don’t know why they keep letting her go to the top rope. She jumps off and flies through the air like she’s shitting into a toilet, lands knees (or feet) first and just kinda crumples over her opponent. It’s HORRIBLE. Between her and Sim, that Snuka name is reaching Hogan levels of second generation bad.

By the way:

Worst: Let’s Ask The WWE Universe What They Think Of AJ Lee

Best: Everything About Bryan/Del Rio Besides The Finish

Okay, not everything. Congratulations to Alberto Del Rio at the 1:49 mark for the fakest “I’m pretending to wrestle” punches since Shane-O-Mac hung it up.

But yeah, I thought this was good while it lasted. I’m generally a fan of Del Rio’s intense style (when he’s connecting) and I like when Bryan’s facing a guy who is bigger than him but also somewhat technically gifted, so it’s not just him eating Miz chinlocks until it’s time to hit his moves. I liked how natural the match felt, and wouldn’t mind a program between the two, even though I think Del Rio and Ziggler fit together a little better. Bryan and Ziggler fit together better too, for that matter. Hey, where’s Dolph Ziggler?

Anyway, I liked the match a lot but I’m too hung up on the finish to really wax pleasant about it.

Worst: The Finish, Because Holy Shit The Finish

If you missed it (and can’t watch the video), the match is going well until Randy Orton appears on the TitanTron and reveals that he’s BACKSTAGE (you know … where he’s supposed to be? Where everybody is?) and that he’s about to hurt Brie Bella. Bryan gets distracted (and rolled up, but thankfully not pinned off of it) and eventually bails on the match, taking a purposeful count-out to save his girlfriend. Here’s the problems I have with this:

1. Brie Bella’s a wrestler, right? So is Nikki Bella. Why are they suddenly cowering in fear in a corner when Randy Orton shows up? I know that objectively he could hurt them, but they were JUST out here showing off how tough they are … and then a guy shows up and they’re helpless damsels? In addition to it being personally annoying it just doesn’t make sense. Imagine if Alundra Blayze was out there german suplexing Bull Nakano, and then when a bad guy showed up backstage she was suddenly Miss Elizabeth. You can either portray Brie Bella as a legitimate wrestler or you can portray her as “wrestler’s civilian girlfriend.” If you do them both at the same time you’re not only devaluing Brie, you’re devaluing everybody who has to pretend like they’re in a competitive match with her.

2. This is the third “someone gets distracted and loses the match” match of the show.

3. We do not need things that can be interpreted as having sexual assault overtones on our wrestling show. I didn’t personally think the suggestion was that he was gonna go in there and try to rape anybody, but (1) a lot of people online did, and (2) this IS the guy who once handcuffed a man to a ring rope, assaulted his wife and then made out with her unconscious body in front of him. So there’s precedent. And seriously, what were we supposed to think Orton was gonna do back there, drape Brie’s legs over the examination table and DDT her? Come on.

4. WWE Creative is really bad at coming up with diabolical plans right now. Remember when Paul Heyman’s plan was “Curtis Axel and Ryback are nearby, and they’ll jump out from behind stuff when CM Punk gets close to me?” Remember the one before that where Heyman stood in the middle of the ring and explained how THIS IS ALL A PLAN TO GET YOU, CM PUNK, because the one-on-one match he challenged Punk to was actually gonna be Punk versus TWO guys? This week, Orton’s plan was “make Bryan think I’m gonna attack his girlfriend to lure him backstage, then I guess politely ask one of the people in the room to lock the door behind me when I leave so Bryan will have to force it open, and then I can sneak up behind him and toss him into the side of a bathtub ONCE?” The f*ck kind of plan is that? Couldn’t Orton have just jumped him in the hallway when he was trying to open the door? Or at ANY OTHER POINT EVER?


Best: I Am Going To Ignore The Inconsistencies And Love The Crap Out Of This Match

This is legitimately one of the best matches in the history of Raw.

A few parts of it didn’t make a lot of sense. If it’s a no-disqualification match, why are you waiting on the apron for a tag? Why aren’t you just in there helping your partner? Why does Dean Ambrose wait until the match is almost over before he rolls in and starts helping The Shield? Wrestling with no rules always gets confusing, because wrestling NEEDS rules to create drama. Otherwise you’re just bashing each other in the head with aluminum trash can lids and nothing gets done.

Those things don’t matter, though, because things came together when they were supposed to and we got a tag team titles match so good it justified the asinine gesture that was the rest of this show. It was the tying together of Raw’s best storylines … the Shield continued to be Triple H’s watch dogs and his weirdly-abused pawns at the same time, the Rhodes Brothers continued to fight to force WWE to recognize their family as accomplished athletes instead of sideshow jokes, Triple H struggled for control, Big Show made his presence felt after being fired last week to not only get back at the guy who fired him but apologize to the men he hurt when he knocked out their father, hell, even Daniel Bryan’s YES chants worked their way in there to keep him tied to the grand narrative. It was an awesome match accompanied by a web of well-put-together plot points and GOOD GOD pro wrestling is awesome when it’s done right. This was the opposite of Beat The Clock and Randy’s Heinous Plotz in every imaginable way.

And where do we end up? With Cody Rhodes and Goldust as the new WWE Tag Team Champions. With Big Show as a hero to the people, firmly on the side of the goat-faced angels. With Triple H steamed and throwing his jacket around like Ric Flair might and The Shield being at a sincere disadvantage professionally for the first time since they rose up from NXT. This is great TV, and if the effort that has gone into the Rhodes/McMahons story had gone or could go into ANY OTHER PART OF THE SHOW we would be living in a golden era of pro graps.

As it stands we’re living in a goldust era of pro wrestling, and I’m fine with that.

Best: Brhodes

<3

Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night

LBCS

WWE has the worst security on the planet

Juby14

He should’ve ran down there holding his ticket

Thrillhouse

Sweet merciful crap, Cena..I didn’t think you could bother me any more than you have already..but here you are, filming yourself vertically. You’re a monster.

SHough610

I knew Mr. Perfect had substance abuse problems, I didn’t realize that his wife drank while she was pregnant.

Harry Longabaugh

If this were an election year, Zeb could use Cesaro to win over the swing states.

Cami

When people said they wanted RAW to be more like early ROH, they weren’t asking for you to call up Xavier.

DenseMan1

My night was just made by those three idiots each having a mush-mouthed and wordy fat joke bomb literally three in a row. Eat shit, announcers.

JerichoThat

Triple H should have that arm-brace of his awkwardly strapped around his face.

Mr Grift

This is “HBK” like the guy they got to make those Cheaper by the Dozen movies was “Steve Martin.”

Raven

Goldust has a wall at home painted so that if he stands against it in full costume, he blends right in.

Thanks, everybody. See you next week, when there are four additional pay-per-views.

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