The Best And Worst Of WWE Raw 9/16/13: Admiring Stares And Unconscious Embraces

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Please click through for the Best And Worst Of WWE Raw for September 16, 2013.

Worst: The Thing About Jaded Internet Fans Is That We’re Usually Right

At SummerSlam, Daniel Bryan was challenging John Cena for the WWE Championship. Some people were worried, because any hope or idea of Bryan winning was marred by a Triple H guest referee spot and a Randy Orton Money in the Bank cash-in looming. People who were worried were told to stop being “jaded internet fans” and just enjoy the moment, because JUST WAIT AND SEE, maybe it won’t happen like that. Spoiler alert: it happened like that. Bryan won clean in a great match, was immediately pedigreed by Triple H, and Randy Orton cashed in to end Bryan’s reign in a matter of minutes. A month of Daniel Bryan getting shit-kicked followed.

At Night Of Champions, Daniel Bryan beat Randy Orton with the same running knee he used to take out John Cena and won his second WWE Championship in a month. Unfortunately Scott Armstrong made an unusually fast count, which was code for “Bryan’s going to be stripped of the belt tomorrow night.” GOOD fans on the Internet told the jaded types to enjoy themselves and stop overanalyzing everything, because JUST WAIT AND SEE, maybe it won’t happen like that. Maybe Bryan will keep the belt and Triple H will be all mad and send another opponent after him at Battleground. Spoiler alert: it happened like that.

Yes, some people on the Internet are jaded to the point of nausea. There are people who watch the show simply to complain about it, people who watch out of habit or to form a contrarian opinion in their group of friends. To be the guy who “gets it.” This is awful. You should never watch something you hate. I’m stuck in a loop like that with ‘Glee’ right now where I’m mentally contractually obligated to finish out the run and it keeps getting renewed and I’m f*cked. This is a legitimate concern. The thing you think of as “the IWC” is just the WC with computers. They’re the exact same wrestling fans. It’s not its own thing.

Knowing that, it’s important that I grab you by the shoulders and shake the shit out of you until I convince you that some people who voice concern are just tired motherf*kcers who have been watching this shit for decades and are paying attention. If you pay even basic attention to wrestling, it shows you its cards. We aren’t genius scientists or anything, we just sorta internally enjoy the comfort of knowing the sport’s rhythm. Hoping for the best and expecting the worst, because face it, the best is the greatest thing on Earth, but wrestling is a solid 80% the worst. The worst thing you can imagine. It’s why so many people hate it and look down on it and the people who love it. The ones who stick around for a long time are the ones who learn that the good stuff is worth wading through years and years of the bad, because nothing else in the world compares to great professional wrestling. True f*cking story.

I’m in a weird spot, because my job is to entertain you with goofs and jokes, but also to tell you what I thought about the show. I’ve watched a lot of these shows. Sometimes a guy falls out of the ring and the first thing that pops into your head is “can he get back into it when Raw rolls on,” and then a commercial break happens. Because you know this like the back of your hand. I am not a genius or a scientist, and I don’t know any more about this than you do. I’m just in it for the good stuff, and pointing out all the bad stuff around it makes the bad stuff easier to take. My heart beats strong for Daniel Bryan title wins, and it protects itself by saying “here’s how it’s gonna fail.” It doesn’t make the highs any lower, trust me.

Best: Daniel Bryan Does Not Roll Over Like Every Single Other WWE Person

The actual Thing We Expected was done really well, with Triple H bringing Scott Armstrong to the ring to provide way, way too much explanation for the fast count and vacating the WWE Championship because CONTROVERSY. More importantly, Daniel Bryan actually tried to stand up for himself and refused to hand over the title to this bullshittery, yelling “no” in the face of the giant, condescending man who wanted to dethrone him and that man’s slender, creeping friend.

Everyone played their role well. Scott Armstrong has clearly watched his Randy Anderson tapes and knows how to play the stupid Southerner who done mest up and just wants to keep refereein’ without consequence. Bryan was fired up and dragged down into the gutter by Triple H’s predictably manipulative nonsense, and H continues to be amazing when he’s not interacting with a heel and reverting back into pandering-ass cool heel DX mode. Orton keeps validating my Johnny Lawrence theory (that he is a good guy forced into bad situations by the actual bad guys, something he’s always kinda been, even when he was punting folks) and hit one of the best RKOs I’ve seen him hit in a while. It’s all very good, even though I wish they’d let WWE Champion Daniel Bryan exist in a world without GM Storylines.

Best: No Morality! No Mororse!

Spit it out, Steph.

Worst: “The Story Is That Dolph Ziggler Has Pinned The United States Champion!”

Isn’t the story ALWAYS that some guy has pinned the whatever champion? That happens on Raw more than the f*cking Attitude Adjustment. Champions or briefcase-holders can win at pay-per-views, but cannot HOPE to win on Raw, where they are at the mercy of that one WWE writer who thinks “champion loses non-title match to set up title match” is a perfect story whether you do it six times an episode or not.

Best: Dolph Ziggler vs. Dean Ambrose To Open The Show, And It’s Better Than It Was At Night Of Champions

That said, Raw was surprisingly full of great wrestling last night, starting with the Night Of Champions rematch between Dolph Ziggler and Dean Ambrose. Ziggler won with a nice counter of the headlock driver, which sadly means that I have still not gotten my “awesome Dolph Ziggler headlock driver sell.” If you missed NOC, Ziggler sold it like a person climbing into bed. He just sorta fell over. It was HEARTBREAKING for me.

The Dolph Ziggler fan-favorite run has been miserable, but there’s one thing about it I’ve learned to like: his justification of the “comeback.” I think Ziggler’s paid enough attention to how and when to sell that he knows selling on offense is important, but his character is built around these adrenaline rushes where he starts hitting a bunch of stuff and becomes overwhelmed by how spectacularly bad-ass he can be, so he just keeps powering forward until he hits everything he can. Watch him here, when he hits the dropkick, hits a stinger splash, hits a bunch of punches in the corner and connects with a running clothesline. Watch when that’s over, and he stands up and looks like he’s just gotten off of a roller coaster. That’s cool. It’s not a YEAHHH LOOK AT ME moment, it’s more of a “wow, look what I just did, that f*cking ruled.”

WWE should learn an important lesson from Daniel Bryan … you can package and repackage and reappropriate stuff all you want, but the key to a successful good guy in WWE in 2013 is great matches. Punk did it, Bryan did it, and everyone eventually figured it out and started following along. Ryback didn’t, Del Rio didn’t (not really), Miz didn’t, and they’ve all either stumbled or had their act changed on the fly. If Ziggler could just have a bunch of matches like this every week, the fans would love it and the jerks like me who turned on him when he ditched Team Rocket would stop worrying and learn to love the bomb.

Worst: Fandango Should Just Change His Name To Randy Savage

Speaking of guys who never have great matches, here’s Fandango going from a feud with The Miz built around dance contests to a throwaway Raw match against R-Truth. Fandango’s going through the same thing as Bray Wyatt right now. He’s a fun, marketable character that the crowd wants to get into, but they can’t because he’s just farting around with these garbage throwaway guys all the time.

My suggestion: throw away all the throwaway guys. Ditch the driftwood veterans, hire some veterans you know how can actually work and connect with the crowd (like Goldust) and let your filler matches at least appeal to SOMEBODY. They don’t have to be 20-minute show-enders, but Christ, they can be more than an excuse for the crowd to stop paying attention and start chanting “Randy Savage.”

Worst: Do Not “What” Dusty Rhodes, I Swear To God

What I didn’t like about this segment:

1. Dusty Rhodes being “Virgil Runnels.” This isn’t CM Punk talking to Triple H, it’s PHIL talking to PAUL! All that other shit is fake! This conversation we’re having right now is REAL! Don’t mind the swat team or the 7-foot guy in the camo onesie, this is for-realsies.

2. Cleveland daring to “what” Dusty Rhodes. Dusty’s spent enough time head-honchoing at NXT to know the “change your cadence and snip their balls” move so he did that and everything worked out fine for him, but f*ck the hell out of you, Cleveland for not shutting your mouth when Dusty Rhodes is talking. Imagine talking to The Pope. The actual Pope, not the TNA one. That is the respect you should be showing Dusty Rhodes. I would probably show Dusty Rhodes MORE respect than The Pope, but I’m a guy who writes wrestling columns for a living, so stop listening to me at some point.

Best: Stephanie McMahon Is Still The Devil, And Big Show Is Still A Blubbering, Compelling Mess

What I liked abou this segment:

1. DUSTY RHODES IS SPEAKING. If he’s not wearing an nWo shirt or making somebody put their face in a donkey’s ass, there is a 100% chance that I am going to Best any instance of Dusty Rhodes speaking.

2. Stephanie McMahon continues to be the Sean O’Haire Sean O’Haire wishes he could’ve been. Nothing is more booable than Stephanie’s “business” voice, where she starts talking about being the daughter of a genius and the concept of sports entertainment and the “global phenomenon” or whatever. Add in a bunch of unnecessary interruptions, a few Last Temptation Of Christ offers of help and a default conversation ender of “Big Show’s gonna punch you now” and boom, she’s evil incarnate. Linda McMahon didn’t give birth to her, Stephanie came bursting out of Melisandre’s womb in a stream of black smoke.

How evil is that “you can give Cody or Dustin a job, but only one of them” question? Dusty was right to say f*ck the lemons and bail. Stephanie’s so good at cruelty face you’d think she was exactly like that in real life. Coughing sounds.

3. The Shield as a heartless pack of dogs. With chairs! My only regret is that Stephanie doesn’t summon The Shield with a remote control with just one big red button on it.

4. EMOTIONAL BIG SHOW~. This is the kind thing a lot of people rag on, but I loved it. Torn-up emotional Show really gets to me, and I’ve long said he’s the best actor on the show. Him standing up for Dusty and doing the damn thing himself instead of leaving a legend to a gang of creeps was powerful, as was that amazing embrace after the KO punch that worked for the story and was totally not because Dusty is 70 and can’t bump.

I hope the story continues until Mania with Show getting colder and colder to the orders of violence, then “coming to” at just the right moment and going Colossal Titan on every single bad guy in the room.

Best: LOL Natalya

My favorite non-wrestling moment of the show had to be the continuing saga of what happens when you put Natalya on live TV. In this installment, she sits down to color commentary and her headset doesn’t work, so she spends 80% of the match leaning over and yelling things we can’t hear. When she finally DOES get sound, she uses it to drop impossibly sad chestnuts like, “you’re just jealous because you’re not a Total Diva!” and, “AJ you are a title-holder, I AM BORN A CHAMPION.” Why not tell AJ that when the going gets tough, the tough get going, Nattie.

Hey Natalya, remember when you and Beth Phoenix were doing that thing where you were “real wrestlers” and the story ended up being that you were just jealous of how pretty and blonde Kelly Kelly was, even though you AND Beth Phoenix were blonde and at least in the subjective ballpark of Kelly Kelly pretty? Remember how bad that was? It is not so great to be the Kelly Kelly. You are the worst.

Worst: What’re The Chances Damien Sandow’s Briefcase Is Just Full Of Spiders And That’s Why He Can’t Win A Goddamn Match

Good ol’ Sound Guy Jeff feels the way I do. He decided to play Sandow’s music when the match was over in an attempt to reverse the decision, because there’s a good chance the announcer is a Pavlovian dog and would raise Sandow’s hand as a stimulus response, but nope, another sub 5-minute loss for the future World Heavyweight Champion. Boy, we’re sure gonna suddenly take him seriously when THAT happens!

Best: Miz’s Hilarious Parma Parents

holy SHIT you guys

In this episode, we find out that Mike Mizanin’s parents are Dermott from ‘The Venture Bros.’ and Maggie from Marvels, instantly explaining everything we’ve ever wondered about The Miz. Remember that time he got all “accidental racist” on ‘The Real World?’ Look at his parents. Wanna know why he used to run around with his shirt off pretending to be The Rock? Look at his parents. Trishelle? Look at his parents.

I’m note sure I can love something more than I love Miz’s parents. His dad’s SPECTACULAR no-selling of everything is AMAZING. Randy’s literally punching his son in the face half a foot from this guy and he responds by standing still and having no f*cking clue what’s going on. A bear could’ve been attacking him and he would’ve just stood there. These are the most Parma people in history, ladies and gentlemen, and if you wanted to know what every person in my section looked like when I waited tables at the Orange Ave. Olive Garden, here you go.

I cannot WAIT until Maryse marries into that family. How’s that even gonna work? It’s like Beyonce marrying Sugar Bear from ‘Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.’

Best: Randy Orton Is My Favorite Wrestler

Actually, I don’t know what I enjoyed more here, Randy Orton as death incarnate or The Miz as the cool kid from the trailer park who turns out to be poor and kinda sad. Just kidding, it’s Randy Orton.

Seriously, between the last month of great matches and this epic trouncing of my least favorite personality on the show, I am digging Randy Orton so hard. He just MURDERS the Miz here, bumrushing him before the match, Nigel McGuinnessing him into the ring post, punching him in the face a thousand times … WWE has finally found the perfect use for The Miz, and it is “being brutally beaten.” And just when I think it’s gonna end, Orton drapes a chair over his skull and drops Old Glory on it, effectively/hopefully putting Miz out for an extended period of time.

Remember when Orton punted Husky Harris, and then a year later Bray Wyatt showed up? Maybe Miz will disappear for a year, marry that beautiful French-Canadian model into his family of slack-jawed yokels and reemerge fully-realized as ACTUAL Chris Jericho.

Best: Paul Heyman And Ryback Are New Best Friends

Wait, I found something I love more than Miz’s parents. Paul Heyman kissing Ryback on the cheek.

It makes sense. These are the two most outwardly-affectionate characters on Raw. Remember how John Cena got all embarrassed when his beautiful teen girlfriend showed up in the men’s locker room, and he was all weird about Justin Gabriel seeing her even though they’re co-workers and it’s not that big of a deal? Ryback isn’t like that. He gave Vickie Guerrero a hug when she got fired. Remember Punk responding to a woman’s advances by being all YOU’RE CRAZY WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU all the time? Not Paul Heyman. Heyman screams I LOVED YOU in Punk’s face.

I say this because I need you to understand exactly how happy I got when Heyman kissed Ryback on the cheek and Ryback’s face just LIT UP WITH JOY. And then he stood up, FLEXED HIS MUSCLES FOR NO REASON and yelled that RYBACK RULES, presumably because he’d just gotten A SMALL AMOUNT OF AFFECTION.

THIS has been Ryback’s problem all along. When he says “feed me more,” he’s not saying he wants more jobber bodies to crush, he’s saying he needs to be emotionally fed more often. Nobody ever responds to Ryback like a human being. Maybe he’s telling the truth about hating bullies. Maybe he’s not “bullying” local talent at all. Maybe he just respects the business and thinks these 5-foot-nothings who’ve never been to the gym don’t deserve the spot he’s worked so hard for and eaten 40 meals a day or whatever to earn. Maybe if we saw both sides of the story we’d learn that the jobbers didn’t shake hands or were rude to the veterans, and Ryback’s the only dude confident enough to stand up to them.

Best: Ryback’s Homer Simpson Pants

Best/Worst: Curtis Axel Put On His Gear And Wore His Belt To Push A Wheelchair 10 Feet And Then Disappear

At least nobody put him into an impromptu wheelchair race with Kofi Kingston, I guess.

Best: The Tag Team Division Is Pretty Cool When You Pay Attention To It, Or
Worst: Brodus Clay Is The Worst Guy In The Ring By A Mile

If you don’t take anything else from last night’s elimination tag team match, take the knowledge of how much better Tensai is than Brodus Clay. Brodus plateaued HARD when he became the Funkasaurus, but for years Tensai’s been one of those Chris Masters types who doesn’t SEEM like he should be great at wrestling, but he suddenly IS, and is the perfect example of WWE “not using someone right.” “Not using someone right” isn’t exclusive to whoever got released most recently. Tensai’s got fire, he’s got a great powerhouse moveset, he looks weird as hell and can move. He should be doing something more interesting than being the slowest, most tired guy’s tag team partner, I think.

The good news is that Tons of Funk get eliminated pretty quickly, leaving us with another in a string of enjoyable little Real Americans/Usos matches that ultimately lead nowhere but are fun to watch. They couldn’t even settle on a stipulation here. The graphic said it was to become #1 contenders to the tag titles, but Cole was all, “winning this match gets you a chance at a championship opportunity somewhere down the road.” WOW, HOW PRESTIGIOUS.

And I’ll be honest, after watching Antonio Cesaro and Jack Swagger tear it up against Sami Zayn down in NXT, I just want to see them go HAM and wreck the f*cking Usos. The Usos are fine and all, but these guys are WRESTLING MACHINES. And what’s with showing the Cesaro giant swing during the commercial break? What’s the matter, is he almost getting over again?

Best: 20 Minutes Of Daniel Bryan Vs. Roman Reigns, And The Trilogy Is Complete

Back on 8/26 I wrote:

Worst: I Am Only Accepting This If We Get Bryan/Ambrose And Bryan/Reigns Soon

Bryan got the win on Rollins in spectacular fashion, but Dean Ambrose immediately jumped him, threw a bunch of punches and got caught in a Yes Lock. I thought they were going to have him tap out quickly to make time for Bryan/Roman Reigns, giving Bryan enough of a breather with a flash win to realistically have enough left in the tank for match three, but nope, Reigns runs in and causes a DQ. Then as soon as Bryan does anything to Reigns, AMBROSE causes a DQ. So technically Bryan won three matches in a row again, but … no, he really didn’t.

The only way I’m not gonna get mad about this and complain for 80 paragraphs is with the knowledge that maybe as the Bryan/Corporation beef continues we’ll get long, cool singles clashes between Bryan and Ambrose, and Bryan and Reigns. I know Bryan and Ambrose can do something great, but I’d be especially excited for Bryan/Reigns, just to see if Reigns has gotten as good as I think he has, or if I’m just wanking over The Shield guys out of habit.

Last week, Bryan vs. Ambrose happened (and was very good), so I wrote this:

I sure hope WWE has the same plans as me and runs Daniel Bryan vs. Roman Reigns next Monday, because oddly enough that’s the one I want to see most. Bryan’s always best when he’s fighting bigger, stronger guys, and Reigns is the only guy in the group who didn’t comb the indies and wrestle everybody a thousand times.

Hooray for plans, because this week’s main-event was a 20 MINUTE THING between Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns, and it was my favorite match of the three. Reigns has improved so much I can barely explain it. Go back and watch anything he did as Leakee in FCW and NXT for proof of that. He was terrible, he just looked like a freaking prince so he got to be on television. Now he’s hung out with great workers long enough to become one himself, working a deliberate, entertaining match and paying attention to a lot of little things, like selling on offense. I see you selling on offense, Roman Reigns. That is a very quick way into my heart.

Bryan is exceptional as always, and I love that he seems to be learning from his previous Shield matches and basically just trucked Reigns for most of the match. At various points in the match I thought he was gonna cave in Roman’s chest, and I’m starting rethink the whole “Shield shouldn’t wear flak jackets” thing, because yeah, if they’re wrestling Bryan all the time maybe they should. Just a great, great way to end Raw. I feel so good when Raw isn’t terrible. I just want to write about Roman Reigns singles matches and the Miz’s weird parents every week.

Best: Seth Rollins Vs. Daniel Bryan’s Legs And Knee

And the Emmy for Outstanding Performance In Looking Dead For Real goes to Seth Rollins for that time he got dropkicked into the announce table, and again for that time he lost 70% of his cranium eating Daniel Bryan’s running knee.

Best: Finally, You Chumps Decided To Get Your Shit Together!

Finally, everybody on Raw who isn’t actively trying to be a jerk to someone else banded together to stand up to Randy Orton and The Shield, and I love it. The team is made up almost exclusively of guys I don’t like, too … Zack Ryder’s there, Kofi Kingston’s there … actually, I’m gonna give Kofi a Best here for getting death killed by Roman Reigns in the middle of a babyface victory brawl for no reason whatsoever. I’ll give him a supplementary Best for selling the spear while everyone else was yessing, just meekly clutching the top rope and pointing his finger up while everyone else went full Yes.

Daniel Bryan becoming the Eren Yeager of the well-meaning WWE undercard is something I can get behind. That hug with Brie Bella with adorable. And hey, you’d think if a roster had previously organized a walkout on Triple H for not being able to protect them from deadly Miz and R-Truth run-ins they’d organize SOMETHING to keep random firings, Big Show groundings, referee screwjobs and old people punching from happening, right? Although now that I think about it, it’d be pretty funny if Triple H opened the next show by saying, “Daniel Bryan, you’re the only good person in your gang, everybody else is fired.”

Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night

Salty O

RVD’s looking around like “Oh, you can point this way too?”


I haven’t seen a bearded warrior try to end Roman reigns like that since Alaric the Visigoth in 410 AD!


I just wish they’d quit dodging the subject and talk about that fast count from last night.

Jim Bradfield

Bray Wyatt is in a Cleveland hospital slitting The Miz’s and Dusty Rhodes’ throats.


This is the sweetest make a wish segment i’ve seen.


Axel mouths to cameraman: ” should I get in the shot?…. No?…. Ok”

Mr Grift

For Miz’s family, the day Randy Orton graced their village, it was the most important day of their life. But for Orton, it was Monday.


I’d laugh if Steph came out and berated Randy “This isn’t what I was talking about, that’s sick, you’re beating up a man in front of his parents, I literally wanted you to handcuff my husband and take advantage of me, what was so hard for you to understand? I said exactly what I was looking for”


I have a feeling that Miz and Maryse’s rehearsal dinner is going to be at a Shoney’s.


HHH: Hey Ziggler, we’re in Cleveland tomorrow, aren’t from around there?
Ziggler: Ye…No, not even close, Florida, I’m from Florida.
HHH: Good news, Miz!

Thanks for reading, everybody.