– Be sure you’ve read The Best And Worst Of Royal Rumble 2013 before you read the Raw report.
– Comments, shares, likes, and especially Reddit submissions/up votes are appreciated. Those SquaredCircle Reddit types are nice people, and they need YOU, the valiant Reddit/With Leather overlapped demographic, to submit and support the column.
– Don’t forget, I’m going to be live at National Pro Wrestling Day this Saturday, so if you’ve ever heard of wrestling and Pennsylvania, get there and say hi.
Sorry, I couldn’t find a HQ episode of Nitro to review. Click through for the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for January 28, 2013.
Worst: I’m Kinda Disappointed That CM Punk Has So Many Reasons To Be Mad, And The One He Chooses Is ‘Remember Bret Hart’
The worst thing I do as a wrestling fan is develop unrealistic expectations for wrestling characters. I’m sure you’ve picked up on this. I’m the asshole who wants an arena full of kids and their parents to say, “no, you know what, John Laurinaitis is RIGHT, he’s just trying to do a good job, John Cena is being childish! Kids, you should grow up to be a businessman, not a dude who lifts weights and punches people for money.”
But man, it’s the night after CM Punk’s 400-and-whatever day title reign ended and they’re in Las Vegas, the same place where he sat on the stage, namedropped Ring Of Honor, made Jim Rome believe wrestling was real and, at least until Kevin Nash showed up, changed the way WWE main events worked. I wanted him to come out with guns blazing, you know? Tear down the Rock for the right reasons, not because he likes “these people.” Cut into him like he cut into the business two summers ago. This drug-addled hate-shouter showed up out of Hollywood and got a title reign based on nothing but star power. Three matches in 10 years. END HIM. CHARGE YOUR LASER AND GET ON THE MICROPHONE AND END HIMMMM.
And here’s Punk, hood up, throwing shit around. When he starts talking, what does he say? That he’s just like Bret Hart, because remember that time Bret Hart got screwed by Shawn Michaels? It’s such a predictable talking point that a guy in the crowd has a PHOENIX SCREWJOB sign and makes “yep, called it” gestures when he’s on TV. It was the most From The Desk Of Mr. McMahon thing Punk’s said in a long time. It’s fine, but it’s disappointing, and that’s totally my fault.
Worst: Antonio Cesaro Is Five More Losses To Randy Orton Away From Being Wade Barrett
This was a nightmare for me. The actual match wasn’t bad — I’m popping for Cesaro’s gutwrench suplex no matter what — but … well, let’s number it:
1. It’s a paragraph I write all the time, but the United States Champion should not be losing matches to “better” Superstars. There’s no point to it. If you want a guy to lose all the time, even if his job is to look great while doing it, don’t give him a championship. If you give a guy a championship, let him win championship matches. If you want your champion to lose, he should lose the championship, with “non-title loss leads to unexpected title shot” being the only exception. Do not create a hierarchy where there is a group of wrestlers who are “better” than the champions and just win all the time. Make those guys the champions, or find a more creative way to write their characters and matches. It’s lazy and pointless from every direction, and should not happen because you remember Cesaro’s on the roster and need somebody who doesn’t suck to wrestle Orton.
2. The Raw Roulette wheel is the worst. Now it’s so bad they had to create three different wheels, because they ran out of explanations for why these things are happening. The reason WCW had to stop doing Battle Bowl was because they killed what was special about it, and started booking every match as ROAD WARRIOR HAWK AND JOHNNY GRUNGE VS. FLYBOY ROCKO ROCK AND ROAD WARRIOR ANIMAL. You know, where it’s just super, super obviously rigged to tell a story. The plus of the Raw Roulette wheel should be true unpredictability. I know you gotta go with what works, but it would not kill you to have your “THIS IS DIFFERENT” show actually be different.
3. Why does The Miz get to be the special guest referee? Why are we stacking the deck against the heel? I know Vickie doesn’t like Ziggler, but is she a face GM all of a sudden? Why not have somebody who hates Orton get the guest referee spot? Why not spin that superstar wheel you have to find the referee? Is the issue between Cesaro and the Miz compromised by having Cesaro/Orton ref’d by Epico? Why not just do a Cesaro/Miz rematch on Raw with a special referee, if you want to do a non-title loss that ends with Miz hitting the Skull-crushing Finale on Cesaro? Seriously, just take 20 minutes and try hard to write any of this.
4. As a jerk on the Internet, I am getting really, really tired of watching Randy Orton RKO Antonio Cesaro.
5. Tuck in your shirt, Miz. THIS IS YOUR JOB.
Worst: The Prime Time Players Won That Challenge
Who died and made Matt Striker the King Of Jokes?
There is no world in which the Prime Time Players should lose a “being funny” contest to Ryback. WWE shouldn’t organize these weird popularity contest things (“make me laugh” challenges, dance offs, karaoke contests) if they aren’t gonna be honest about it. Ryback beating up a couple of guys who didn’t do anything to him because he’s too shitty at jokes to win fairly? AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT.
Best: DIE MATT STRIKER YEAHHHH
Any points Ryback lost for being a poor sport were recovered when his path of rage met Chucklemonster Matt Striker, and Striker ate probably the best-looking Shellshock ever. I don’t know if Striker f**king up the lift-off made Ryback mad and he just shoot Shellshocked him or what, but I wish it always looked like that.
In case I haven’t typed it enough lately, Matt Striker is the Goatse’s asshole of pro wrestling and Scott Stanford should have his job. Scott Stanford should also have Josh Matthews’ job, and Michael Cole’s. (Note: if Stanford gets Cole’s job, Big E Langston is next in line to be the Josh.)
Worst: That Is How They Do It
Watch this commercial. To recreate the live Raw experience, watch it, wait two minutes, then watch it again. Repeat every ten minutes for three hours. I am doing my own taxes this year, because f**k Jackson Hewitt.
We miss you, gay Twix cops.
Best: Bo Dallas, Apparently
I didn’t write about Bo Dallas in the Best and Worst of Royal Rumble 2013 despite him doing a pretty good job, because Rumble matches are long and you can’t write about EVERYTHING, and because my reactions to him were limited to the following:
1. Bo Dallas was probably the worst wrestler in that NXT tournament, and God, how much do I want Leo Kruger to be brought up and paired with Antonio Cesaro in a Grima/Théoden-type thing? I’d even take Sterling James Keenan’s low-rent CM Punk thing over Bo Dallas.
2. “Is Bo Dallas going to Chris Benoit Wade Barrett out of the Rumble? BO DALLAS JUST CHRIS BENOIT’D HIS ASS.”
3. His entrance theme sounds like the Jimmy Hart version of ‘Indian Outlaw.’ When he gets eliminated, it will be Not A Moment Too Soon.
Anyway, I’ve got to admit, I’m feeling Bo Dallas as a main roster guy so far. He’s got a lot of fire, his arm drags look good, his Magnum T.A. style belly-to-belly was on point and he hasn’t had a chance to mess it up, so good for him. Even his Backstage Fallout segment is personable and charming. It’s even better if you compare it to Zack Ryder’s disingenuous buttholery at the end.
Best: The John Cena/Fred Flintstone Tale Of The Tape
So, this happened.
Part of me hopes this was a shot at TNA. The other part of me wants to devote my life to photoshopping WWE vs. Hanna-Barbera tales of the tape graphics, just to set up a bout between Santino Marella and Snagglepuss. They are basically the same guy.
Worst: John Cena Defeats Cody Rhodes In A Buried Alive Match
WWE followed up Cody Rhodes’ star-making performance in the Royal Rumble, epic trouncing of Kofi Kingston and showdown with his brother Goldust by having him lose cleanly to John Cena in 1:50. Like, I don’t love going the “you’re holding back guys I like” route, but god damn this was the worst.
Why did it happen? The only rationale I can figure is that they’ve pushed the idea of John Cena having a “bad year” (you know, that bad year where he beat Brock Lensar and pinned Dolph Ziggler like 700 times), so if they’re gonna do Once In A Lifetime 2: Book Of Shadows they need Cena to steamroll a bunch of guys and look like a monster so he can take the Rock. Other than that … I don’t know. It’s just John Cena perpetuating every unbearable stereotype he’s picked up in the last ten years, showing up to decisively destroy what we love and make a big, never-ending deal out of what we hate.
Rhodes Scholars not interacting and being put into the Intercontinental Cup as singles competitors while Daniel Bryan and Kane face a thrown-together main-event team for no reason makes it even worse. That tag division isn’t long for the world, is it?
Best: Nicely Done, The Shield
As mentioned in previous columns, the John Cena trouncing of +Rhodes and subsequent jabber-promo got me angry enough to hit my limit break, so The Shield showed up and attacked him. I really do enjoy how The Shield appears to be working in the interests of Brandon Stroud specifically. If they show up at National Pro Wrestling Day and attack The Hurricane the second he yells WASSUPWITDAT and poses, I’ll know I’ve got a real Firestarter thing going on.
Anyway, I’d love for these guys to, I don’t know, have matches, but watching them dispatch Cena, Ryback AND Sheamus and bail as the victors (instead of as cowards, like everybody else) made me very happy. If you want them to be a threat, they’ve got to win these fights. They also need to start developing a moveset deeper than “punch” and “make Roman Reigns do it.”
But yeah, F the WWE All-Stars. And LOL at the crowd for chanting “Rocky,” like he cares enough about anyone else on the show to do a run-in. The only way he’d save Cena, Ryback and Sheamus is if he got to Rock Bottom all three of them at once to end it.
Worst: Honky Gaijin Be Trippin’
Not ashamed of being a wrestling fan? QUICK, WATCH THIS
Poor Albert. When he showed up he was The Great Muta, and he had ASIAN MYSTERY and a man-servant and a deadly MOUNTAIN DEW CLAW OF DEATH and he could beat John Cena. One bad match with Ryback and five lingering Sakamoto beatdowns later and he’s doing The Pony or whatever in a negligee for the amusement of f**king nobody.
You’d think the whole HAW, HE’S WEARIN’ LADY CLOTHES thing would’ve stopped making wrestling fans laugh circa Big Vito because of, I don’t know, the advancements in human rights since 2007, but here’s what bothers me the most. Okay, remember back when AJ and John Cena were “dating,” and AJ burst into the men’s locker room, and Cena got all apologetic to Justin Gabriel because AJ had seen Justin in a towel, which shouldn’t have been a big deal because Justin Gabriel wrestles in his underpants, which covers way less than a towel? Yeah, Tensai is taking the bra and panties approach here and acting embarrassed despite wearing WAY more clothes than usual. Upset that it’s ladies underwear? YOU WEAR BRIEFS THAT LOOK LIKE THEY’RE MADE OUT OF FRUIT ROLL-UPS. YOUR ORIGINAL WRESTLING NAME WAS A DICK RING JOKE. This is not as bad as you’ve felt.
Trust me, guys. I know you like your job as Wrestler and all, but if Vince smirks up to you and says “we’re gonna make you do the Pony in Stephanie’s sexy underwear because IT’LL GET YOU OVER” or whatever, you should still respond with “yeah, no.”
Best: THIS Is How You Do Heel/Face
This was my favorite WWE TV segment in a long, long time.
This is what I’m asking for when I complain about Rhodes Scholars being adorable best friends and Sheamus stealing a dude’s car so he can shit in it because “Mexicans.” You’ve got to reverse those roles. The people you want me to cheer for should be admirable. The people I boo are the ones who should be doing nasty things. There can be exceptions, and anti-heroes and likable rogues can work, but they shouldn’t be the status quo. At its core, wrestling should not forget to have characters like Big Show and Alberto Del Rio.
Del Rio is such an amazing good guy right now. A guy who reached his destiny and was shocked to discover that his true happiness was in sharing it. A guy who humbly opened up to his best friend, became embraced by the people he secretly loved, and will now do anything to stand up for what he believes in. I’ve written about Big Show’s complexities before, and they remain steadfast here — he’s a guy who is good at the core but beaten down by a career of humiliation and disappointment, so he lashes out when he’s embarrassed. The ending to the Last Man Standing match wasn’t him “losing,” it was him being made a joke. Taped to the rope. Now he’s going to do anything he can to erase that memory from peoples’ minds.
They come together, and the dynamics work. Show cares more about hurting this guy who embarrassed him than winning the dumb Raw Roulette match, so he just attacks and tapes him to the ropes. Comeuppance. The announcers helpfully note here that what Del Rio did was okay, because it was a no disqualification match, and what Show is doing is not, because it’s supposed to be a body slam challenge. That’s important. Del Rio did something Show could see as dishonorable, but we could for-real justify as just part of the game. Show’s reaction is to cause the same kind of humiliation to Del Rio, because it’s the worst thing he can imagine. Del Rio, a man who spent two years putting Ricardo Rodriguez in the line of fire, is now made to sit back and watch as Ricardo takes every possible bullet from Show.
See how that works? You still have shades of gray, but they don’t make the entire CHARACTER gray. You’ve still got a guy to cheer and a guy to boo, and they don’t f**k with what works. By the end of that segment the crowd was booing (not just WHAT-ing or sitting on their hands, or reacting to cues and music) and I really, really wanted to see Alberto Del Rio kick The Big Show’s ass.
You are awesome sometimes, wrestling. I HOPE NOTHING ELSE ON THE SHOW IS SUPER TERRIBLE AND MAKES ME TAKE THAT BACK.
Best: ‘Sup, Showgirl Rosa Mendes
Worst: This Is Not How You Do Anything
I … I don’t know what this was. The Divas division continues to fall apart without Eve Torres around to anchor it. The wrestlers on the outside are dressed up like showgirls because “Las Vegas” and “they’re objects,” and none of them seem to know their alignment. Kaitlyn gets knocked out of the ring, so Alicia Fox just kinda backs up and puts her hands in the air. Aksana waits a few seconds and then is all, “oh, okay,” and starts punching. Somehow that leads to everybody but the people in the ring wrestling, because WOMEN BE CRAZY or something, and it just ends. All the while, the announcers won’t stop talking about how horrible it is. When did this become NXT season 3?
I can’t with this.
Me too, Tamina.
Best, I Guess: The Rock Is Just Cussing Instead Of Making Up Words (Mostly)
If you want to watch this segment, here you go.
If you need a recap of what happened, here it is in its shortest form: The Rock is the WWE Champion, and he is happy and You People helped him win. CM Punk is NOT happy, and wants a rematch at Elimination Chamber. This is happening. Rock called Punk a “punk ass bitch” like three times, which is pretty wank-worthy coming from the mouth of a 40-year old and not, I don’t know, the bassist from Sum 41, but aside from one mention of Paul Heyman having “deep fried Twinkie tits” he refrained from calling Punk randomly-selected gibberish, so hey, way to go. Punk is bad because he has no balls and is a bitch. Par for the Rock’s course.
Punk should’ve taken some of that “I stick up for women” stuff he claims in real life and done it here, but he briefly made fun of Rock for stupid-cursing, so I’ll give him a thumbs up. I’m pretty sure this feud has already beaten me into writing submission, so … yeah, here’s some fan-fiction.
Jack Swagger Of Mars
A horrible rap song about Rodney Mack from 10 years ago that is somehow still being used today rang out through the night, and Jack Swagger, Kaa’orri and the Mars Bandits knew they were now bound by fate and obligation to compete in a two-on-two fight. Jack shared a quick glance with Kaa’orri. She wasn’t sure if she could trust him. He was a stranger on a distant planet. All the same, two hulking green monsters inched closer to them, death in their eyes, fury dripping from the sharp ends of their teeth. It was now, or it would be never.
Jack Swagger Of Mars rolls on, when we come back!
Best: Sheamus/Sandow, Especially When Compared To Cena/Rhodes
It’s a shame that WWE Fan Nation only included two minutes of this match, because it was really fun.
Watching Sandow wrestle Sheamus really shows you how great and giving Sheamus is in the ring. He’s not afraid to get beaten up. When Sandow wrestles a guy like Kane or Cena (or worse, when Cena wrestles Cody Rhodes), he looks like a stooge. A guy who just kinda stumbles around trying to hit a goofy elbow drop until he loses. When he wrestles Sheamus (which we’ve seen him do a few times now), he gets to show that “mean streak” they like to attribute to Killer Kowalski. He looks like a THREAT. A tough guy who can hang with top-shelf WWE guys, because he’s been around long enough to secretly be a top-shelf guy himself.
If you DVR’d the show or whatever, watch Cena/Rhodes, then immediately skip ahead and watch Sheamus/Sandow. Cody Rhodes is every bit as good of a wrestler as Damien Sandow, probably better, and Sheamus is every bit the bland babyface 5-moves of doom death bringer Cena is. But one of the matches is good, and the other is a Divas time-allotted garbage heap. Try to figure out what the difference is.
Best: Logical Responses To Plot-holes
I can’t tell you how happy I am that Chris Jericho’s latest WWE return makes sense. What usually happens is that a guy gets fired, or retires or whatever, and when they need him back he just shows up and is “back,” and nobody questions it. Sometimes they’ll just say I SIGNED A NEW CONTRACT or whatever and it sounds “legal” enough for wrestling fans and they just roll with it.
Here, we have a totally reasonable, logical, character-driven plot point. Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero were an item. Jericho put his career on the line in a match against Ziggler and lost, and he was gone. Fast forward a bit, and now Ziggler and Guerrero are beefing. She puts him in the number one spot in the Royal Rumble. What can she do to make that worse? Make #2 the guy he hates the most, the future Looper version of himself, Chris Jericho. Sign him back so he can make Ziggler’s life miserable. It works. I totally buy that.
Worst: What, Not Brave Enough To Call Him Ding Dong Tits?
That said, longtime readers know that Sassy Good Guy Chris Jericho is maybe the only character I like less than The Rock, for the exact same reasons I dislike Rock — their heel personas are my FAVORITE THINGS EVER, and when they start throwing in with the fans they abandon every bit of creativity, charisma and intelligence that made them compelling characters in favor of shit like POONTANG PIE and WOULD YOU PLEASE SHUT THE HELL UP.
Jericho wasn’t at his worst last night — his worst involves Classic Concentration photoshops and Planet Of The Apes birthday parties for Stephanie McMahon — but he hit some low notes, including calling AJ a “crazy little doggy” (because she is Ziggler’s ignorable possession) and saying the E in Big E Langston was his bra size. You know, because ladies, I guess?
Yeah, I don’t know. If Jericho’s gonna go the Cena/Rock/Whoever route of “you’re bad because you aren’t a MAN” thing, I’m prepared to give him as much shit as I give anybody else. He’s too talented for that, and his jacket is still too awesome to be worn by someone I hate.
Worst: 5 Minute Versions Of What Should Be The Best Thing Ever
I’m not going to lie: I would pay any amount of money for a 25-minute pay-per-view tag showdown between Dolph Ziggler, Chris Jericho and Team Hell No. Daniel Bryan and Chris Jericho need to finish that feud that began in Bryan’s first “real match” against a WWE pro on NXT, right? Bryan and Ziggler are aces together. Kane’s been motivated with Bryan at his side, and Jericho and Kane have pulled off some decent-ish stuff in the past.
What I don’t really want to see is thrown-together tag team partners facing the only team left in the tag division WHILE THAT TEAM IS ALSO BREAKING UP. It goes five minutes and has a wacky finish where Ziggler gets beaten by one chokeslam after lasting all night in a Royal Rumble. The Team Hell No story starts and stops, Jericho’s being pedantic as f**k and Ziggler’s back on the IT’S RAW, TIME TO LOSE tip. This is not what I want.
OH AND SPEAKING OF WHAT I DON’T WANT
Worst: WWE Karaoke, But You Already Knew That
In the spirit of positivity, here’s what I liked about this segment:
1. 3MB having jeggings for tights, if I haven’t mentioned how much I love that before.
2. Drew McIntyre selling the Khali brain chop better than anyone in history (or the future)
3. I got a perverse joy out of Khali’s “sacksy booooooooooi.”
4. Hornswoggle did not speak.
5. Natalya did not fart.
That is all.
Worst: PERFORMANCE EVALUATIONS, HOW DO THEY WORK
I think you and I had the same two problems with Mr. McMahon’s personal performance evaluation of Paul Heyman.
– Paul Heyman isn’t technically an employee of WWE, right? I mean, he IS, but in kayfabe he’s an independently contracted manager for CM Punk.
– Not to keep harping on it, but yeah, Vince McMahon was relieved of his day-to-day duties as C.O.O. by Triple H forever ago. They cried. Triple H told Pop he loved him. Then one day McMahon showed back up like nothing had happened and started ordering everybody around again, because wrestling fans have the memory of a turnip, and wrestling writers have the memory of the dirt that birthed it.
Also, performance evaluations are a scheduled thing. You can’t just show up the second somebody does something you dislike and be all NOPE, PERFORMANCE EVALUATION. So no performance evaluation should be happening, none of the people involved should be involved, and the last 15 minutes of Raw should probably be a match. All agreed?
Best: Paul Heyman Getting All HBO Drama On Brad Maddox
Heyman was fantastic in the performance evaluation, though, not only in the ring (where he got to deliver an amazing soliloquy about how he’s an awful person who deserves death a la Michael Madsen in Kill Bill) but in that atmospheric “secret footage” (from 4 of the 6 writers of “John Cena And AJ Are At A Hotel Together”) as well. It had a little too much exposition, especially if it’s supposed to be incriminating footage, but it came together well, and Maddox was great as a wormy guy who’d kept pushing and kept pushing and ended up in way over his head. I also enjoy The Shield as SHADOW MONSTERS.
My heart began to sank when they got to the YERRRR FAHRRR part, but THEN!
BEST: WELP, HERE COMES DA PAIN
WHERE THE F**K WERE YOU YESTERDAY
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
“Before retiring, Bob Backlund took a position at Jackson-Hew- THISISHOWEEDOOOOEEeeeEEeettttt”.
Fred Flintstone: 2
John Cena: 1
JORTS ST. PIERRE
What has six eyes, thirty fingers, and just beat the hell out of Ryback?
This better all be an elaborate distraction while Triple H and ten other guys rob the Bellagio, because there’s literally no other explanation for this shitshow.
One day, I just want Cody to win via a Dusty finish, that way Dusty could confront him the next day.
Dusty: “Where did you learn how to do that, huh? Who taught you? TELL ME!”
Cody: “I LEARNED IT FROM YOU, DAD!”
He’s duct taping him to the Undertaker’s symbol!
If The Rock played a member of Seal team 6 in Zero Dark Thirty I’d have rooted for Bin Laden.
I’m having trouble understanding The Rock since I don’t speak Juggalo.
The Teddy Long Roulette Wheel only has two spaces, “HOLE ON A MINNET PLAYA. SPIN AGAIN.” and “TAG MATCH”.
See you guys next week.