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– I’ll remind you again as the column rolls on, but Justin O’Connor of Progressive Boink and myself are hosting a Best And Worst Of WWE Smackdown Live-Blog tonight at 8 PM EST. They’re airing it live this week, so you should come and chat with us and leave comments that I can hopefully multitask well enough in spite of Justin’s funny to include. Seriously, you’re going to laugh your ass off at this. Stop by, and tell folks.
– Another good reason for you to stop by and get to know Justin: he’s going to be filling in for me on the Best And Worst Of WWE Raw 12/19 report on Tuesday the 20th. The 19th is my girlfriend’s birthday, and as much as I love wrestling, yeah, no.
– All the gifs you see within the report are courtesy of the awesome Jerusalem at Punchsport Pagoda.
– Listening to me is better than reading me, so be sure to spend … jesus, two hours listening to me talk to K. Sawyer Paul over on the International Object podcast.
But first, please to enjoy the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for November 28.
Best: John Cena’s Emotional Complexity
I loved this opening segment so much, and I hope you already know why. For months (and arguably years) I’ve been trying to justify John Cena’s crowd reactions and motivations, and for once WWE too a chance at making those justifications a reality. People like to say things like “compare CM Punk or Alberto Del Rio or Ricardo Rodriguez’s facial expressions to John Cena’s, it’s like he’s not even TRYING”, but they’re wrong. CM Punk’s character is simple … he’s an anti-establishment type who is secretly in it for himself. Alberto Del Rio is a rich guy who thinks badly of anyone who isn’t him or employed at Del Rio Estates. Ricardo is a nodding yes man who is emotionally invested in every turn of the conversation. Those things require a specific kind of reaction. Cena’s is different.
John Cena is, and continues to be, the most subversively complex character in WWE. He is neither a “good guy” nor a “bad guy”. He is what others have tried to desperately to be to get over with the fans: himself. He is a man (and a former robot, if you’re going by OVW history … and possibly WWE history, now that I think about it) driven by a moral code, to be loyal to those he feels are loyal to him and do anything to preserve that. It’s why he refuses to change. Why would he? This is what he believes. He knows that guy in the camo in the front row is happy to be appreciated. He knows those kids in Cena gear are gonna get jaded one day and grow up and leave him … but he won’t leave them.
If John Cena “turned heel” like so many of you suggest, he’d be the most false character in WWE history. He’d be faker than Festus. Hell, he’d be faker than Festus Kane. He knows what he’s doing might be not “right” in the eyes of the fans, but they’re right in the eyes he’s developed for himself, and his fans and supporters share those eyes. That’s part of being a Cena fan, you don’t just wear the slogans, you adopt them. He has an entire dresser drawer full of Say Your Prayers, Eat Your Vitamins. That was great advice to kids from Hogan. “Rise above hate” and “never give up” are great advice for kids today. So why should he get pissed? Because you don’t understand that? Cena says he’s in a “good place” and Piper doesn’t believe him, because Piper doesn’t know that the place Cena’s in is the only one that keeps him from robotting the f**k out and laser killing everyone. That’s what he means. That’s why he gives Piper back his Hall of Fame ring, and the first thing he does after is kissing his dog tags. THAt’s the symbolism. That’s the real meaning of this segment.
The dog tags are it. That’s his heart. If we get The Rock pulling an Andre the Giant at any point and ripping those dog tags off — the one prop Cena’s never really lent to story — that’s when the sh*t goes down. Cena can still be himself, never turn heel, and still be the craziest, angriest, most irrational motherf**ker alive… because he’s already that. He’s already the heel. You just aren’t paying close enough attention.
Best: Referencing The Most Bad Ass Ring Entrance Of All Time
I’m a huge sucker for John Cena Wrestlemania entrances, especially the drumline at Wrestlemania 24, but his entrance against Rob Van Dam at One Night Stand remains the most indignant, confident entrance of all time.
He just puts the belt over his head and walks to the ring with his head down. The Cena here is the Cena from Piper’s Pit. He knows how they feel, he just doesn’t care. Because why should he? He’s the f**king champ.
Best: Cena Kids Are Always Awesome
Regardless of your pro wrestling allegiances, you’ve got to love that. One of my favorite things ever is the BELIEVE IN THEM part of the old “don’t try this at home” warning where the kid in the Cena military bulldog shirt pumps his arms and goes RAHHHH. I was this kid. I was just dressed like Robert Gibson. And then Road Warrior Hawk.
Best, Just In General: Piper’s Pit
I don’t talk about it a lot, but Piper has been responsible for two very important moments in my life.
1. The first was when I was five. I spent most of my childhood in the hospital with lung problems. I’ve got a lot of stuff wrong with my lungs. To make me feel better, my Mom brought me those old rubber WWF thumb wrestlers to play with in the bed, mostly because the NWA didn’t make toys. I had Hogan, the Iron Shiek, Big John Studd, Junkyard Dog … and I had Piper. But Piper had Piper’s Pit, and I didn’t. So I took an old wooden… I don’t know what it was, a box? Like something you’d put jewelry in. And from my bed I took off the lid, turned it upright, drew some plaid carpet in the bottom with crayons and wrote PIPERS down one side and PIT down the other. I had my thumbwrestler guys do interviews in Piper’s Pit to set up my thumbwrestling matches for later in the day. I’ve always just kinda been like that.
2. I went to Wrestle Fan Fest in San Francisco a few years ago to meet Kurt Angle and The Great Muta. I didn’t show up on Friday, and because the fest was run by people in the wrestling business it was like 75% scam. I didn’t get to meet Angle or Muta. I’ve still never gotten to meet Muta, but I did get to meet Piper. I used my “meet Kurt Angle” ticket to meet him. I waited in line and watched him take a few moments with each person, not just taking our money, not just rushing us through like everyone else. I watched him kiss a kid in a wheelchair on the forehead. When it was my turn, I shook his hand and asked “What’s the secret?” He told me. I don’t tell anyone else.
Worst: Rowdy Roddy’s Deep V-Neck
and if I can be less serious for a minute, “how to properly wear a dress shirt on television” was not the secret. The hell was he wearing?
Best: Goodbye Forever, John Morrison
I wanted to write an entire “Candle In The Wind” parody and copy-paste it in right here, but you get the idea. Copy and pasted from WRESTLE HEAT~. Wrestle Heat, for the HOTTEST news in wrestling!
As noted earlier today, the contract of John Morrison is expected to expire either on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. His original contract with the organization expired earlier this month but he agreed to an extension to appear at events he was advertised for. It is not known whether he will be making a farewell appearance at Monday’s Raw SuperShow in Columbia, South Carolina.
Well, now we know (even though people on the Internet kept saying it was going to happen against Brodus Clay … hell, even Brodus Clay said that) and this is it. I expected more of a definitive squashing sound and/or JoMo getting MuHa’d through the stage with a Last Ride or something, but what I got was a compelling, historically-significant back-and-forth Falls Count Anywhere thing that at once encapsulated the Best and Worst of John Morrison’s WWE career. Think about it, he was in a Falls Count Anywhere match, his freerunning specialty. It was against the Miz, who shared the best years of Morrison’s character’s life. It had him getting hurt out of nowhere (my favorite Morrison segment, of which there have been many) and selling a debilitating leg injury by dragging his leg around like f**king Cindy Brady worming her way out of the Fairy Princess because she can’t get enough tickets for her Old Mommy and her New Daddy. Dude got hit 35 times in the leg with a lead pipe and was throwing clotheslines 40 seconds later. But we cared, a little. And that was John Morrison.
John Laurinaitis coming out to look at him on the stretcher earns bonus points. He should’ve peeled off a FUTURE ENDEAVOR’D sticker and stuck it to Morrison’s neckbrace. I can’t wait to see you “tear it up” in Impact, John, or worst case scenario I can’t wait to watch you sit in the background and text while I talk to Melina at next year’s Wizard World.
Best: The Miz As An Actual Pro Wrestler
How refreshing is it to see Miz actually beating people up again? He went through a thing with Alex Riley where he seemed like he was ditching his “The Miz” character to focus on being an Actual pro wrestler in Actual pro wrestling, but then he stopped showing up on TV and R-Truth came along and we went right back to his Our Gang scripted “we’re TV characters” thing. The Hell In A Cell handcuffing incident aside, Miz hasn’t looked like a threat possibly EVER, so having him Gotten Get R-Truth and put John Morrison’s beautiful jawline through the stage grating Event Horizon style was wonderful. Thematically this should continue with The Big Show next week and maybe Chris Jericho thereafter, and he can spend January f**king up the cast of Extreme Expose and finally giving Coral from The Real World a Skullcrushing Finale through one of those bean bag couches in New York. Do a full Butterfly Effect thing that builds to him throttling himself in the womb.
Worst: Jesus, Back Up A Little
1. It was pointed out to me that Miz looks like Howard The Duck, and now I’ll never be able to unsee it.
2. You do not need to fill up my entire widescreen with Miz’s face. I could see his pores clogging. It reminded me of one of those Samoa Joe promos where he’s chewing gum and has his head tilted back and they zoom right up his f**king nose for two minutes while he chews threateningly and barfs platitudes about “pain”. I know they were trying to get over how “ice cold” he is or whatever, but damn, I can notice that his eyes are blue from a few feet back. I don’t want to end up in Innerspace.
Not Sure If Want: Second.
Have you convinced yourself that this is for anyone other than the Undertaker? If you haven’t, I’ve developed a few new theories.
1. Ted DiBiase, because he’s a Jr., which is American for “the second”
2. 3 Minute Warning, because minutes have seconds, and classrooms have clocks
3. D-Generation X, because if you pause at the 0:15 mark you can see the DX logo on his buttons
4. John Morrison returning from his worked contract situation, because that’s how the Internet thinks wrestling works
5. Kharma, because it’s about “bad things coming back around”
Actually, that last one would be pretty sweet. I’m going with that.
Best: Beth And Nattie Jogging For No Reason
I don’t know why it happened, but Beth Phoenix and Natalya did a literal run-in on the Divas tag match. They didn’t do anything, they just jogged around the ring and back up the ramp. It continued their four month-long streak of taunting the babyface Divas who beat them constantly by doing nothing, but holy sh*t did they look great in workout gear. WWE is so stuck on that early-00s aesthetic of sparkling bras and hot pants that they’ve been missing out on how hot muscly, feminine women look in yoga pants. It’s like how they won’t evolve past Nu Metal. This is the look you’re gonna want to go for, guys.
Worst: What The F**k Is Going On With These Divas
After watching Kelly Kelly and Alicia Fox defeat the Bella Twins in the time it takes the Divas Of Doom to beat The Chickbusters, here’s my updated theory:
When WWE signed Awesome Kong, they did what they usually don’t and booked the Divas division around her for the entirety of the upcoming year. When she got pregnant and had to take a leave, they decided to throw something together until she got back. Now, assuming that WWE Creative doesn’t know how mathematics or probability or definitions of words or linear time work, it can be assumed that they also have no idea how pregnancy works and thought it would only keep her out for 4-6 weeks, like everything else (torn muscles, marijuana possession, etc.). So now on like Thursday afternoon they write “tag match, Kharma returns” on the dry erase board and on Monday morning Stephanie McMahon or whoever (someone who has actually been pregnant) calls them up and is like “hey, she’s still got four months to go” and the writers roll their eyes and go GAWD SERIOUSLY, WHAT THE F**K and erase it, replacing it with “tag match, whatever”. Then, because they can’t remember anything for more than two hours, they forget and the cycle repeats.
Now, imagine that you’re a performer who is expected to work with only “tag match, whatever” and you’ve got the natural improv and timing of Kelly Kelly. Wouldn’t these Diva tags where your partner gets beaten up for a few seconds and you tag in and critical them with the one move you know be it?
Not Really Either: I’ve Also Figured Out Why Kelly Is Suddenly Best Friends With Alicia Fox
Don Cherry outed Kelly Kelly’s (gay?) relationship with NHL defenseman Sheldon Souray on ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ earlier this month, and given the propensity of hockey players to get engaged to whichever blonde American type they’ve stumbled upon, my working theory is that Kelly’s teaming with former heel Alicia Fox because she’s the only wedding planner she knows, and Alicia is being nice about it because she wants Kelly’s business. This and more in my new WWE Origins novel Why Alicia Fox Does Anything.
Also, a supplementary Worst goes to Alicia Literally A Fox for her fur entrance gear. Not to get all preachy about it, but Daniel Bryan should’ve already dragged her to the ground by the arm and forced compassion upon her through tap-out.
Worst: CM Punk Doesn’t Know How Google Works
When he was on the independent circuit in basketball shorts having way-too-long matches with pre-Crisis Superman onesie Chris Hero, the argument was “Punk isn’t as good as guys like [American] Dragon or [Samoan] Joe in the ring, but he makes up for it on the mic”. And I’m not sure if it’s my natural disdain for obnoxious, pandering WWE good guys or what, but somewhere along the line I started loving Punk’s matches and hating every time he talks. How did I get here? This is not my beautiful wife.
But no, CM Punk interrupting John Laurinaitis’ secret, on-camera meeting with David Otunga and Ricky and Al was a very “Chris Jericho hitting Stephanie McMahon with pies” affair wherein he explained that when you type Del Rio and Boring into Google you get 918,000 results. It’s important to point out that he said Del Rio AND Boring, not “Del Rio boring” or “Del Rio is boring”, meaning that he didn’t put quotes around anything and is getting search results for anything that has the words “Del”, “Rio” or “boring” in it. He could be lumping me saying “Del Rio is awesome, Big Show is boring” in with his search results. He could be counting some Mexican guy’s lame trip to his local river. And even worse, he says that Del Rio and Boring’s 918 K search results are nine times as many results as you get typing in “John Laurinatis” and “spineless” and says that means Del Rio is nine times as boring as Laurinaitis is spineless.
This is some more of that “FATAL FOURWAY MEANS THE CHAMP ONLY HAS A 25% CHANCE OF WINNING” sketchy math bullsh*t they love to pull and I hate it. Otunga should’ve whipped out his Blackberry and pointed out that a Google search for “CM Punk” and “sucks” yields 3,860,000 results, meaning Punk sucks 4.205 times as much as Del Rio is boring.
WORST But A Little Best: Still No Brodus Clay
I’m glad they explained why they’re holding off on debuting Brodus, even if “making him wait will make him angrier!” isn’t a real reason. You know the guy wrestled on an entire season of NXT and showed up at Wrestlemania, right? You aren’t bringing in Glacier, here, sh*t or get off the gigantic pot.
Worst: WWE ’12, The Greatest Game Ever Played
WWE ’12 is pretty fun, especially when you create ACH and Akira Tozawa, lower their ratings to like 62 and fix all the sliders to make them wrestle for forty minutes, but the “greatest game ever played” is hilariously inaccurate at best, and a Predator Technological middle finger in the face of Chrono f**king Trigger. And Super Dodge Ball, for that matter. Super Dodge Ball doesn’t make me press the button eight times before my guy throws the ball. “Greatest game ever played” is a phrase for melodramatic ESPN docs about sports nobody cares about (like tennis), not for an entertainment medium with Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas in it.
Best: Please Acknowledge The Presence Of Wade Barrett
Wade Barrett gets two Bests this week, the first one for the phrase “please acknowledge the presence of Wade Barrett” coming out of Justin Roberts’ mouth, making me wonder if Barrett had lent him Throwing A Garden Party by James Trickington before the match started. They should use that phrase more often, especially in situations like Eve’s entrance, when she comes out all dancey and pointy and nobody gives a sh*t. “Please acknowledge the presence of Eve Torres!”, he’d bellow, and the crowd would go “wooo, sure” and Eve could smile and feel okay about herself.
The second Best goes to Wade Barrett’s ability to speak earnestly about himself, and in doing so shut the King the f**k down. Paraphrased:
Lawler: “He’s got Vickie Guerrero on the outside distracting him, you on commentary distracting him and-”
Wade: “LISSEN LISSEN that’s his manager, I’m here to commentate. Randy Orton needs to focus on his match. Answer me this, what on Earth was Randy Orton doing during my match last week against Kofi Kingston? He wasn’t invited, he came down halfway through and distracted me. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”
Lawler: [silence] “Well said, Wade Barrett!”
He got Jerry Lawler to CONCEDE A POINT. How amazing is that? The only way it could’ve been better is if he’d yelled TALK ABOUT WADE BARRETT into his headset, King said “we’re talking to you right now!” and he screamed TALK TO HIM MORE. Also, he should start entering to this Cage The Elephant song because it sounds like they’re yelling WADE BARRETT! WADE BARRETT! in the chorus.
Worst: WWE Announcers Reading Tweets From Fans On-Air
Don’t do this again.
Worst: Dolph Ziggler Likes To Show Off
This is in no way a condemnation of Dolph Ziggler’s creative development or in-ring performance, but Jesus Christ is “I like to show off” the worst character tic to give a wrestler since “speech impediment” or what? He likes to show off? What does that even mean? Liking to show off can be a thing you have, but having him say it in picture-in-picture promos and writing SHOW OFF on his TitanTron wall makes him pro wrestling’s The Riddler. He’s basically coming out and saying “hey everybody, I’m going to do cartwheels and sh*t instead of winning, that’s when you should punt me”. The nonchalant cover that ALWAYS leads to a crucifix has become sentient and walks like a man.
And anyway, isn’t “I like to show off” Kelly Kelly’s old gimmick? The next time Ziggler poses for the crowd instead of going for a cover, Mike Knox should rush out and cover him with a towel.
Best: Macho Man Guy
This guy was awesome. I love when people cosplay at wrestling shows. There’s a guy who shows up to every Anarchy Championship Wrestling show in a La Parka mask, and another who wears fingerless gloves and a vest and carries around a replica title. You can almost always find a Savage and a Hogan somewhere in every wrestling crowd.
But just like actual cosplay, I appreciate the less obvious choices. Can we make cosplaying at wrestling shows a thing? I want to go to Raw dressed as Phantasio or something. Maybe Big Josh if they won’t let me bring in fire.
Best: Randy Orton Putting People Over, A Novel Idea
Have you noticed how Randy Orton keeps losing to guys like Dolph Ziggler and Mark Henry, yet remains completely over and one of the most popular guys in the company? Funny how that works, isn’t it?
They’re huge on Randy “evolving” and “adapting”, but I love how he’s secretly evolved into this giving, silent workhorse who stopped delivering long-winded promos in his Dooley from ‘King Of The Hill’ voice and decided to put on good matches with everybody all year. As bad as he’s been in the past, that’s how good he’s been in 2011. I love it. And honestly I thought last night’s match with Ziggler was a little on the boring side, but I appreciated it happening, and even with the Wade Barrett distraction I liked how it ended. Ziggler won that match clean. All Barrett did was get up on the apron, Orton’s the one who took his eyes off the prize and decided to start throwing dropkicks. Zig-Zag Man Right There just capitalized on it, which makes him smart. Or a hypocrite, if you ask Michael Cole.
Oh, and let’s not forget the best part of Dolph Ziggler, Exhibitionist:
So Many Bests, I Guess: Dolph Ziggler Continues To Stand On Heads
He’s got a background in competitive cheerleading, of course he can do a beautiful headstand. The best part was when they zoomed in on his face, and he’s just shaking his head and going OH YEAH, OH YEAHHHH like the f**king Kool Aid Man because of how much he loves the Showing of Off. Bold prediction: Ziggler’s headstands are going to be the Spinaroonie of the 2010s, where we love it and want to see it whenever he’s around, even if we can’t remember why watching this guy doing Day One gymnastics is supposed to be entertaining.
Worst: I’m Not Sure Michael Cole Knows What A Hypocrite Is
I’m not doing a book report on Raw so I won’t hit you with the Webster’s Dictionary Defines Hypocrisy As line, but the concept sort of hinges on the morality of the self and isn’t a synonym for “liar”. Basically Cole’s just trying to call him a liar, right? Bryan said he was going to cash in Money in the Bank at Wrestlemania, but tried to cash it in early. Cole might as well have run the ill-informed Internet insult gamut and called him “derivative”. I also would’ve accepted “overrated” (which doesn’t mean “overrated”, it means “bad”) or “broken”, especially “fundamentally broken”. Jesus, the more you think about it the more you realize the Internet is just a big f**king abacus for people with no idea how to count.
Best: Vegan High Horses
Hey, I’m on one of those! And to quote my good friend Justin O’Connor, who will be co-hosting Tuesday night’s Best And Worst Of Smackdown live-blog:
“vegan high horse” makes me hate cole so much and i f**king guarantee it isn’t because someone said “hey, mock the vegans. that’ll get you heat.”
It’s sorta the “what you choose to eat” equivalent of those Obama jokes, where they aren’t made for you to go “heyy, he can talk about OBAMA that way!” but to say “heh, everybody hates Obama, were all in this together”. The worst part of it for me, personally (as one of the ten vegans in the world who watches wrestling), is Cole attacking Bryan for it like it was an ethical decision. Bryan has made it pretty clear that his doctors recommended going vegan for his health, and that’s why he did it. He’s on a “real man” kick where everything he does is what REAL MEN do, so I can’t imagine that the protagonist of ‘Last Man Standing’ in wrestler form, Asparagus the Wonder Dog or not, would give enough of a sh*t about animal rights to get indignant.
So if you combined Cole calling him a hypocrite as a catch-all and throwing in a reference to veganism that the crowd doesn’t identify with and helps no one, then add to that the fact that Cole was belly laughing about Daniel Bryan’s championship dreams being SHATTERED by Teddy Long’s decision when he’s HOLDING THE MONEY IN THE BANK BRIEFCASE and out here to advertise the WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH HE’S GOT ON TUESDAY WITH AN INJURED CHAMPION … I don’t know. None of it makes sense. I love Daniel Bryan, I love Mark Henry, and this is the #1 feud I’d fantasy book in any imaginable promotion during any imaginable time period. I think what I’m trying to say is that this segment should’ve ended 20 seconds in with a kick to the face and a well-placed “shut the f**k up about everything”.
Best: Daniel Bryan Has Great Mic Workrate
Here’s an example of something I was complaining about a lot on the Internet five years ago, the idea that independent pro wrestlers can’t work a large crowd or speak well. It’s just not true. Consider that even your worst local wrestling promotion has a roster of maybe 20 guys. What’re the chances that all 20 of them are Jumpin’ Jeff Farmer and can’t muster anything stronger than “yip” when asked a question? Now consider that every major city has some kind of wrestling happening. Cleveland had eight competing wrestling promotions at once. Austin has at least two that I know of, and there are more down the road in every direction. So there’s GOT to be a ton of undiscovered talent all across the country who can speak charismatically through a microphone and recite your hacky soap scripts convincingly enough for the two minutes they’re asked to speak, right?
Now consider that Bryan Danielson is the undisputed best f**king guy independent wrestling has had since independent wrestling because a nationally observed thing. Do you seriously think a guy who busted his ass to train to be the best wrestler in the world wouldn’t use 5% of that effort and spend 30 minutes down at The New Movement or wherever learning how to speak without making Howard Finkel Face about it? Come on. This guy is great and loves pro wrestling. Of course he can speak. He’s not mentally diseased.
Best: Mark Henry’s Unique Dialogue
And speaking of being great at speaking, Mark Henry isn’t going to deliver a Cane Dewey any time soon, but holy sh*t do I love hearing him talk. He just approaches sentences from a different place than most. Where a guy like Randy Orton might say “I BEAT YOU last Friday on SMACKDOWN”, Mark Henry says “haven’t I knocked you upside yo head enough lately?” Phrases like “halfway injured” to describe being hurt, but not too hurt to fight. It’s almost Faulknerian. I could listen to him read the phone book. Better still, I could listen to him threaten guys whom I’d like to see wrestle without resorting to that laaaaaaaast weeeeeeek, at the eliminaattionnnnn chambeerrrrrr Miz Conversation Starter thing.
Worst: Jack Swagger’s Trail Of Tears Continues
Vickie Guerrero really isn’t helping Jack Swagger’s career a lot. Before her, he was losing matches to Evan Bourne every week. Really the only improvement she’s made is that he loses to a different guy every few weeks. Swagger needs to go the Ryder/DiBiase/Dolph Ziggler route and find a hobby to get him over. Like, do a picture and picture of him holding up a shoebox and lisping I LOVE TO PICK OUT THEWS! YOU COULD PAY MORE BUT WHY before putting on a pair of ear muffs with MOVES LIKE SWAGGER embroidered on the side. And by embroidered I mean “printed out onto sticker paper and stuck to”. Social assholery is the way to the top these days.
And no, I still don’t buy the Jumping Dick To The Mouth as a critical finish. I know Madison Rayne lifted your Zack Attack, but come on, a knee to the back of the head is a more legitimate path to injury than a flaccid spandex bulge grazing my cheek.
Best: Good Job High-Fiving The Most Internet-Looking Guy You Could Find, Zack
He could’ve high-fived those Make A Wish kids in the African Aid Relief WWE Basics roster shirts, but no, he had to find the fat guy in his “goin’ out” polo.
Worst: Mick Foley Thinks We’re All Roller Coaster Riding Five Year Olds From 15 Years Ago
Disclaimer: As the only 12-year old watching WCW who thought Cactus Jack was awesome, I understand that Mick Foley has fallen onto/into/amidst things for a long time and has earned the right to wander out in a Santa suit and read poems for a paycheck, and shouldn’t have to be set on fire or thumbtacked in the cheek or scraped in the stomach with barbed wire for my amusement. He is a human being and not a clown head in a drive-through.
That being said, how much of a f**king clown head is Mick Foley at this point? I like him being around, but nobody with Mick Foley’s sense of humor and ability to talk should be languishing in that Commissioner Foley Cheap Pop thing this far down the road. My first date with Destiny (the person, not the concept) was (retroactively) TNA Lockdown 2009, where I had to watch an aging Foley win the TNA World Heavyweight Championship from Sting in what would’ve been the objective worst cage match in history had I not been live in Charlotte from Kennel From Hell and had Matt Morgan vs. Abyss in a DOOMSDAY CHAMBER OF BLOOD AND FEAR not also been on this card. It was sad. I’d rooted for him against the Nasty Boys, I’d subscribed to PWI to follow him when he ended up in Philadelphia, I started watching WWF again when he showed up as Mankind and cheered maybe harder than ever before when he Digivolved into Cactus Jack to make Triple H sh*t his pants on national television. Now he was too old to be doing this, too bad to be rewarded with this, and too inevitably depressing to explain.
So no, I’m glad he’s back and getting paid, and I don’t want him falling off the stage or anything, but I also don’t want him yelling HAVE A NICE DAY into a microphone while Santa’s Lil’est Helper Hornswoggle does a jig in the corner and Mrs. Claus Rosa Mendes botches handing a gift to Bick Dick Johnson or whatever. Piper’s Pit being on this show is a great example of what I’m talking about. I don’t want Piper pinning The Miz, but I DO want him around, because he’s got a great mind for this and can make the mindless, Jack Swaggerian bullsh*t happening seem important. Do that, not this.
Best: Ho Ho Holiday Smackdown Is Getting Blogged Live
But hey, while we’re talking about Santa Claus and pro wrestling, don’t forget to help WWE celebrate the November f**king 29th holiday with a live, Tuesday edition of Smackdown and (more importantly) a With Leather Live Best And Worst Of WWE Smackdown Live-Blog (live). Me and Justin are going to talk about pro graps, eating cat food, the social meaning of literally everything that happens and, more likely than not, the goddamn Golden Corral Chocolate Wonderfall.
So be there tonight at 8 PM to chat and hang out with us. If you are on the fence about it, here’s a picture of Kaitlyn in Christmas clothes. Click it. CLICK ITTTTT.
Worst: Some Of God’s Greatest Gifts Are Unaired Backstage Segments
Speaking of Justin, he sent me a text early yesterday that read “Mae Young on Raw tonight”. At first I thought “oh, cool, maybe they’ll bring her out to mess with Mark Henry because of those weird Madison Square Garden chants and he’ll just knock her down and induct her into the Hall Of Pain”. Then, because I’ve watched wrestling before, I remembered that her only contributions are calling women bitches and being led by the arm. She just kinda goes EHHHHHHH and shuffles away. The show came and went, and no Mae. I was relieved.
Then, this happened.
If you asked me to script a Raw segment I’d hate, this is what I’d come up with. Zack Ryder backstage in his Show Your Tits Broski beads, getting Eve Torres to sign his United States Championship petition that was already considered and ignored. Have them stand shoulder-to-shoulder for some reason instead of in any way two people might actually interact. Have it turn into a romantic thing, and have Eve say she can’t go on a date with Zack because she has to wash her hair, remembering that Derrick Bateman perfected and killed off the WWE Date Segment. Have Zack be dejected, but then Mae Young shows up looking like somebody in a George W. Bush caricature Halloween mask to muddle her way through his catchphrase and try not to fall down before the camera stops. AND SCENE.
Worst: Kissing CM Punk’s Ass
A lot of people seemed to like this backstage thing, but I still don’t know exactly what Punk is so mad about. It just kinda made me uncomfortable, like when I was a kid and Sir Mix-A-Lot came on the radio while I was in the car with my parents, and I had to hear about his “anaconda” while my Mom looked at the radio for five whole minutes wondering if she should change it. This is WWE television. I don’t want anybody kissing anybody’s ass, okay?
Best: Okay, I’ll Kiss It A Little
This week’s main event was outstanding, as you might expect it to be, especially in the closing moments. Just great stuff, with what I see as both good and bad news. Like I hoped would happen, CM Punk retained the WWE Championship in a great match (which, to reiterate, is all you need to do to make the WWE Championship interesting) and defeated Alberto Del Rio in decisive fashion, freeing himself up to do new things with new people in new stories. Punk claimed he was going to make the WWE Championship fun and interesting again, and with Del Rio out of the way and Cena trapped in his Jackson’s “Torture” video of personal anguish, he’s got his best shot at doing that ever.
The downside of the match is that Vince or WWE or the Board of Directors or whoever seems to have lost faith in Alberto Del Rio, and it shows. As a champion of Del Rio’s character and wrestling I hope they’re wise enough to utilize him in some sort of compelling mid-card role and don’t let him go the way of John Morrison or Jack Swagger, limply going down to the Rough Rider after a few minutes of back and forth in the post-Divas breathing room segments on Raw. There are a lot of undercard faces who need someone to get pissed with, and worst case scenario you can have him train Ricardo for a run at the tag straps or buy the Uso Twins as Samoan slave labor or whatever and do a thing there. If he’s not wearing a shirt that says I AM THE 1% within a month, you’re missing an opportunity.
You can feud him with Sheamus. Not only would he have a “fighting for the working folks” angle built right in, you could get a great JOO ARE THE 2%, LIKE MEELK! joke out of it.
Worst: Jerry Lawler Using “Ricardo Montalban” As An Inult For Someone Named Ricardo
This isn’t funny OR an insult, you’re just naming someone else.
Best: Eddie Guerrero
I don’t talk about it much, but I miss Eddie Guerrero. A lot. I wrote this piece about him for Progressive Boink when he died, and while it’s been sorta marred by Chris Benoit killing his family and all, going back and reading it puts me in the same f**ked up place I was when I heard.
I love Vickie Guerrero and I like Raquel Diaz in FCW, but I don’t like them being Eddie’s only real lasting legacy. The only other Guerrero we’ve got wrestling in the States is Chavo, and he’s descended into Matt Hardy Internet Madness and you can’t like or respect anything he does. I don’t like the “Hurt” video. I don’t like Eddie’s legacy being Rey Mysterio in an Eddie shirt and Eddie armband doing the Eddie dance before doing Three Amigos. I miss HIM.
But honestly, I loved last night’s Eddie Guerrero tribute spot with the steel chair going back and forth, mostly because of how happy I am that Eddie’s true legacy is that he’s forever entwined with pro wrestling, and that every now and then something’s gonna pop up like this, be it a lying-about-disqualification spot or somebody coming out of their shoe to escape a submission, to make me remember that that was Eddie’s thing, and smile.
Best: Charles Robinson
And speaking of smiling, Charles Robinson is an awesome referee. It’s not shocking to think that everyone in and around the ring should be doing a good job and enhancing the show, but the announcers never seem to try hard and the referees are interchangable. But Lil’ Naitch has been great for years, from his endless sprint to the ring at Wrestlemania to his head shaking arguments with Ricardo Rodriguez last night. I often say that Bryce Remsburg of CHIKARA fame is better at his job than anyone else in wrestling is at theirs, but man, Charles Robinson got to hold hands with Molly Holly for an unspecified amount of time AND gets to be the North American Prototypical Great Referee. That’s really something.
Dream podcast idea: Bryce and Lil’ Naitch talking to me and each other about refereeing for an hour and a half.
Worst: Again With The Ricardo Rodriguez
The only way I’m going to accept ANOTHER mostly-unprovoked attack on Ricardo Rodriguez is that this is the LAST F**KING ONE EVER, and was intended as a closing of the chapter and a thematic bookend. Is there a kid in the world watching Raw going “man, I sure wish somebody would do a finishing move to Ricardo Rodriguez”. Anywhere? The guy gets hit with Gos To Sleep and Attitudes Adjustment on the reg. He gets hit with them more than Alberto does, more than ANYBODY does. He’s the guy that takes those moves. There’s no comeuppance happening anymore, he’s just helplessly getting hurt, and ALL THE TIME.
Ricardo is a great aid to the Del Rio character both as his favorite employee and personal ring announcer, but there’s nothing happening with these finishers that couldn’t be equally accomplished by Ricardo getting popped with a punch on the apron and falling off Bobby Heenan style. Ricardo needs to pop up as a wrestler in a few months and start no-selling AAs and GTSes because he’s been hit with so many and has developed immunity. That would rule.
Best: The Magical Formula
So that’s what, two weeks in a row of good-to-very-good episodes of Raw?
Let me put it to you in black and white. Remember how good Raw was in June and July, where it got you “interested in wrestling” again? Then Triple H showed up, and you justified it because of how much you like him and how cool and tough he is and how they were gonna GO SOMEWHERE, but then they didn’t and Raw sucked a dog’s sh*t for three months? Triple H gets hurt on one of the worst Raws of the year, and guess what? Ever since he left again, it’s been pretty good. What does that tell you? NO DON’T IGNORE THIS PARAGRAPH WHAT DOES THAT TELL YOU. Kevin Nash didn’t even show up tonight to MAEK POOPIES. The bad just washes away.
The next time Triple H shows up, don’t be a stupid Attitude Era fan. Boo him. Boo him until he leaves again. If you don’t, this is never going to stay good.