Sports

The Best And Worst Of WWE Raw 4/14/14: Rising Above Hate (With Photoshop)

Pre-show notes:

– Do me a favor … if you’ve never shared a Best and Worst of WWE Raw column before, share this one. We’ve got to keep our momentum up now that the WrestleMania crowd has lost interest and vanished into Game of Thrones and Mad Men (or old reruns of The Nanny?). You’re the most important part of making this column successful. Well, you and Reddit, when they notice it.

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– I didn’t get a chance to last week, but I want to thank everyone who came out to the premiere of Meet Me There in New Orleans on WrestleMania weekend. If you missed it, we’ve got a showing as part of the Sunscreen Film Festival in St. Petersburg, FL, on May 4, as well as a second “premiere” in Austin on May 20. We’ve got a few more unannounced things coming up after that, so it’s an exciting time. If you can help us be a part of a festival/get screened somewhere else, find me at one of those above links and let me know. You’ll get my friendship forever, and you’ll probably get to hang with Goldust*.

*Goldust not guaranteed (although people who hung out with us in New Orleans got to hang out with him AND Dusty. And me**.)
**Me not guaranteed.

Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for April 14, 2014.


Worst: 10 Bell Salutes

I’m not talking about 10 bell salutes themselves, I’m talking about the experience of watching them.

I’ve talked extensively about how while the Ultimate Warrior was never a guy I particularly enjoyed (or agreed with), he was devastatingly influential and important to people I love. That, combined with him being on television three days in a row after a forever-years hiatus, caused his death to hit me a lot harder than I’d expected. We start off Raw with a beautifully-made video package and a shot of Cody Rhodes standing there on the stage about to break down. Suddenly, I’m a mess.

I don’t like seeing people I love hurt, and this hurt everybody. The timing is the rub … Warrior went from this comical, ridiculous memory of wrestling’s past to a real guy; a real walking, talking human being who had his problems but was clearly trying to make things right. He squeezed his daughters’ hands. He wasn’t screaming about queering and destrucity anymore, he was telling people he loved them. He was on Raw in a stupid plastic facemask yelling about blood-pumping. Even the most jaded of us opened up a little and let him burrow down into our hearts, and then he was just instantly, mercilessly gone.

I’m not sure if I believe in a Heaven or a Hell anymore, but even if all we get is an infinity of silence and darkness, I’m pretty sure Warrior’s running through that shit and shaking its ropes right now.

Worst: People Trying To Get On The Live Track

Lawler: “Let’s respectfully pause in silence as we toll the bell ten times.”
Random Screaming Asshole: “BLEAH BAH BLEAH BLAH BLEAHHH”

People trying to get on the live track are the worst people in the world. Jackson Browne is up on stage singing ‘Birds of St. Marks’ or whatever and everyone’s sitting around lost in the moment, and one dude in the cheap seats realizes there’s about to be a quiet part and f*cking pig whistles so he can “be a part of it” forever. You are the very bottom, whistling guy. The only person between you and the barrel is that hopeless manchild who thought “screaming” was the proper response for “shut up so we can honor our dead friend.”

Best: An Important Cameo

On the far left, above Sin cara and behind Jack Swagger’s right shoulder.

I’m sorry you couldn’t be here under happier circumstances, but thanks for showing up to help me get through this. Was Otunga on the stage somewhere?

Best: The Intercontinental Championship Number One Contender Tournament

Hey, here’s something relevant to my interests!

A large chunk of Raw focused on the first round of a tournament to name a new #1 contender to the Intercontinental Championship, which is great because we’ve spent the last however many years since Cody/Big Show assuming the IC belt is a worthless, cursed strap of garbage nobody wants. Seriously, winning it is the worst thing that can happen to you. It’s the Siege Perilous of WWE careers. You work hard to get good enough to win it and plow through a bunch of guys, and then as soon as you win it you’re “guy 3” in a John Cena trio and taking pinfall losses to everybody else on the roster. Nobody loses more than the Intercontinental Champion. Dean Ambrose had the right idea … he won the United States Championship and decided to use it as an actual belt for his pants that is never mentioned or defended.

So yeah, we’ve got a tournament full of notable guys competing for a shot at a belt that SHOULD mean something, and I love it. I especially love how HOSSY the tournament is. With the exception of Rob Van Dam and Dolph Ziggler, every competing wrestler is the type to rip off your arms and bludgeon you with them or throw their body at you until you’re dead. Mark Henry? Cesaro? Swagger? Sheamus? Barrett? Who put this tournament together, me?

Worst: JBL Doesn’t Know What Rob Van Dam’s Going To Do Next

Okay, no, I did not put this tournament together.

The actual match between Alberto Del Rio and Rob Van Dam was fine. Del Rio’s a great opponent for Van Dam because he’s built around sudden bursts of violence that require haphazard selling and has a lucha libre background, which is code for “can get into position for embarrassing offense.” Van Dam’s still doing 2000 Van Dam and might be pregnant, but people love familiarity and I guess haven’t picked up on the basic spot cues he’s been dropping with Muppet face for the last decade and a half.

At one point in the match JBL’s all I DON’T KNOW WHAT ROB VAN DAM’S GONNA DO NEXT MAGGLE, I DON’T THINK HE KNOWS WHAT HE’S GONNA DO NEXT! I was in the kitchen while this happened and remember loudly saying HE’S GONNA DO THAT ROLL-UP WITH THE LEGS, and then a few seconds later Cole’s all LOOK AT THIS UNORTHODOX INNOVATION! This is not meant as a weird backhanded brag about how I know a lot about wrestling or whatever … it’s about how “we don’t know what Rob Van Dam’s gonna do it’s so crazy” is the biggest lie they tell. My cat knew he was gonna do the roll-up with his legs.

The good news (spoiler alert) is that Van Dam is gonna get Cesaro’d SO HARD next week and it’s gonna be glorious.

Best: The Rybaxel Mash-up Entrance Theme

Jump to the 1:45 mark. I like it a lot. This is how you do a mash-up theme. The Rhodes Brothers theme is just Goldust’s music with the Smoke and Mirrors guy mumbling in the background.

Worst: Won’t Somebody Think Of The Rhodes Brothers

I’m really tired of watching these guys lose. Cody Rhodes might have the least reliable offense in the game right now. How many times does the Disaster Kick win a match in comparison to how many times he goes for it, misses it and eats a loss? How many times does his moonsault connect and get a pinfall? How many times does he whiff it or clip the guy’s shoulder? Cross Rhodes is the closest thing he’s got to a reliable move, and even that ends in an RKO like 15% of the time. If I’m Cody, I’m going to spend a month doing nothing but punches and Alabama Slams.

Also, shoutout to the Raw announce team for choosing Goldust’s ring entrance as the best time to discuss WWE Studios’ Oculus, the best new horror film in years! I guess there was not a more relevant horror film to discuss. My next film’s gonna have a $5 million budget and star Oswin Oswald and maybe then you’ll talk about me on Raw, you jerks.


Best: Being A Bird Instead Of An Egg

Okay, this is gonna sound weird, but … I think Bo Dallas is actually a thing wrestling fans need.

All you ever hear on wrestling shows is negativity. “You suck,” “you’re gay,” “you look stupid,” “you’re bad because you’re different,” whatever. Even the positive stuff only seems to happen around tragedy … deaths, premature retirements, bullied children, dying children. They talk about how they put smiles on peoples’ faces, but they do it by (forgive the simplicity of the phrasing) pretending to punch each other in the face.

And now here you have Bo. I’ve watched enough NXT to know that Bo’s a disingenuous heel who thinks he’s a face, but if you take the Bo-Lieve promo videos at face value, they’re really kinda great. Messages about how today is your day to shine, and how you should make it the best day you’ve ever had. Life is a gift. Messages about how change is a necessity if you want to live a challenging life. It’s hard for an egg to become a bird, but an egg can never learn to fly.

Sure, he’s basically reading quotes from inspirational posters in the SkyMall catalog, but damn if these videos don’t make me want to do something with my life. They’re 100% correct. The “why don’t you cheer for me, I gave you cookies once” will surely follow, but right now I’m kind of in love with the idea of Bo Dallas as the Positive Bray Wyatt … a guy who knows he can save you if you’ll only change, but his existence and presentation prevents you from wanting to. They really are related.

(More on that in a minute.)

Worst: Careful With That Airplane, Kid

You don’t know where it’s been.

Best: The Scorpion Cross Lock On Raw

I’m really not sure what they’re doing with Paige. They spent her entire NXT career building her up as the “anti-Diva,” a pale, vicious badass who screams in your face and flips you over backwards onto your head. On her Raw debut, they painted her as a demure, shy girl who “wasn’t ready,” only agreed to a match on Raw (!) with AJ Lee when she was forced into it and only won because of a fluke counter that didn’t totally connect. My brain went, “it’s fine, they had to get the belt off AJ somehow, and hey, Paige is on Raw now! I’m sure they’ll get it under control.”

When Paige’s first match was against Alicia Fox I thought, “cool, Paige is gonna dominate this.” But uh, nope. Alicia Fox pretty much kicks her ass, hitting her with an Ezekiel Jackson-like string of tilt-a-whirl slams and kicking her around the ring until she’s on the verge of tears. Paige gets in a few desperation shots near the end and manages to lock on the Scorpion Cross Lock for the … not totally decisive win.

And hey, I’m Besting the hell out of the Scorp Cross, because that’s a move that demands a screenshot every time it happens …

… but why is Paige still the nervous, crying girl? That’s not the Paige we want. We want the confident fighter with a heart of gold that isn’t afraid to rip you up. It’s probably another sacrifice to the Gods of NXT/Main Roster Disconnect. I’m happy Paige is on the show. She’s a DOUBLE CHAMPION and winning matches, so I can only complain so much, but damn, I will never figure out why WWE develops a training environment that more or less creates heaping piles of money for the main roster and then ignores them completely in favor of tropes nobody likes that don’t work.

Lita got into the Hall of Fame based exclusively on peoples’ memories of her being “counter culture.” I don’t know if you guys noticed this beautiful British lady who just sauntered onto your show, but uh, pay attention.

Worst: I Really Do Not Enjoy The Usos As NPCs

And now, week 2 of Randy Orton and Batista making The Usos look like ineffectual goobers.

You’ve got to be careful with stuff like this. If Orton and Batista take on the Prime Time Players or whatever, sure, let Titus and Darren get eaten alive. They’re mid-level guys at best, and Orton and Batista are popular (cough) stars. At the same time, you can’t feed them The Usos, at least not while the Usos are tag champions. The suggestion there is that individual stars paired up arbitrarily are “better” than the objective, proven best tag team, and that not only devalues the Usos, it devalues everyone who can’t beat them.

It’s not even that Orton and Batista are beating them, it’s that the Usos look totally helpless. I think a Samoan drop is the only offense they get in that video. Then The Shield shows up in the middle of the match to attack Ortista and what happens to the Usos? They just disappear. Total vanishing act. Shouldn’t they stick around and help The Shield? Or, I don’t know, attack them for causing a DQ loss? Something. Just don’t have Jimmy paint AFTER on one side of his face and Jey paint THOUGHT on the other.

Best/Worst: Paul Heyman, Ultimate Scumbag

Best: Paul Heyman is the best talker in pro wrestling, and the idea that he’s gonna troll the Undertaker for at LEAST another 11 1/2 months is something I’m looking forward to. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a wrestling manager with the capacity to rub it in as thoroughly as Heyman.

Worst: Is … I mean, is this really a thing we need to attach to Cesaro? I was (and remain) as excited as anybody when Cesaro announced he was a Paul Heyman Guy. I thought it should’ve happened back in the long long ago when Paul found Mike McGillicutty and gave him a stage name. But that was when Cesaro was a total WWE nobody. He’d started this grand upswing of popularity recently, tearing it up with Sami Zayn on NXT to earn the respect of everyone in the company that matters and getting over a novelty move with enough severity to earn the respect of everyone else. So why pair him up with a great thing that works in direct contradiction to his in-ring work? Cesaro’s impossible to boo if you’re paying attention to the wrestling. Heyman’s impossible to sincerely cheer if you listen to what he’s saying. Are they trying to cancel each other out?

Again, I’m not mad that they’re together, I’m just wondering if it was the right call. Cesaro obviously needs a mouthpiece. Is the problem that there are no good babyface mouthpieces? Are all the good talkers bad guys?

Best: HOSS FIGHT

It is a CRIME that this match was so short. Cesaro vs. Mark Henry was FANTASTIC while it lasted, and was one of the most logical Vs. Mark Henry matches I’ve seen in a while. Cesaro knows he’s strong, but Mark Henry is the one guy who might be stronger. So what does Cesaro do? He pays attention to his obvious quickness and stamina advantages and just plows into Henry full speed, hammering him with uppercuts and body blows and weathering Henry’s spasms of power until the World’s Strongest Man can barely stand up. I LOVE that. It also plays into how Cesaro and Sheamus should be natural blood rivals … Sheamus is really the only guy comparable to Cesaro in the speed and power categories before you break into the unrealistic, business-exposing “John Cena” categories.

I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get a giant swing on Henry, but maybe that’s something they’re saving for a longer, more spotlit “special event” match down the road. On a show that only exists in my mind, yes. The conspiracy theorist in my brain wants to tie it back to the Heyman/Cesaro pairing and say WWE wants to nerf Cesaro’s crowd reactions, but if they were gonna do that they wouldn’t have him doing diving European uppercuts, because yo.


Best: Lana Getting Her Own Entrance Theme, Also
Best: Lana

Lana is the Cesaro of ladies. Clearly our superior, and causing uncontrollable fits of dizziness for anyone that gets too close.

Worst: Seriously, R-Truth?

Note: the highlight of the video is the 1:30 mark, when Rusev very clearly checks out Lana’s boobs. RUSEV, Глаза здесь!

Additional Note: the lowlight of the video is from 0:00 to 1:29 as we watch almost a minute and a half of Xavier Woods wrestle. It gets slightly better during the post match when R-Truth runs in, decides he’s going to be helpful and just gets his dick knocked into the dirt too. NXT and Raw should put together a Suicide Squad of their worst guys to try to take out Rusev. Like, Lana and Rusev are at a Clippers game or whatever and suddenly Zack Ryder swoops in dressed like Deathstroke and tries to start some shit.

If WWE wants to avoid what happened with Ryback, they’ll slowly amp up Rusev’s competition and keep him from getting stagnant and attached to any specific level of talent. In WCW, Goldberg started off against guys like Roadblock and Jerry Flynn, and after a couple of months he was fighting Glacier. Then he was fighting Raven and Perry Saturn, and then he took on guys like Hogan. In WWE, Ryback wrestled Stan Stansky and Arthur Rosenberg on loop for like six months and then suddenly was challenging for the WWE Championship. Nobody took him seriously, and we didn’t have time to warm up to/anticipate/expect his big power spots. It was just, “okay, now he’s gonna do the thing.” That should NEVER be the point of your showcase wrestlers.

So yeah, if Rusev wants to kill guys like this for a while, maybe move him up to Ziggler soon, then have him taking on individual Shield guys, then maybe your Kanes and Mark Henrys before challenging anybody in the D-Bry/Cena/Orton circle. Although damn, I typed that and now I really, really want to see Rusev vs. Daniel Bryan.

Worst: The Damien Sandow Bit

Damien Sandow said he deserved to be taken seriously. Big Show punched him in the face. It was a segment that explained what I hated about it in real-time.

Best: The Alabama Ten Count

ONE
TOE
THRAY
FOR
FY
SEEKS
SEVEM
ATE
NAN
TIN

Best/Worst: Does Sheamus Ever Lose?

Hoss Fight #2 put Sheamus up against Jack Swagger, and it was another great match. Swagger continues to be underrated as hell, and I love that the Patriot Lock has been turned into a move he can put you in out of nowhere. Last week he was throwing guys off the top rope and catching them in it on the way down, and here he’s sidestepping Sheamus’s slingshot shoulderblock and trapping him on the ground.

The only problem I have is that Sheamus is the most boring, predictable dude in the world right now. It sucks, too, because he’s still killer in the ring. His matches are almost always great, but they always always end in the same place: a Brogue Kick and a pin. It’s frustrating. When you portray a guy as unstoppable, “unstoppable” is his only story … so when you ignore that story, you just get six straight weeks or whatever of Sheamus Brogue Kicking Christian and it going nowhere. Sorry, it went to a fourway match on Raw where Christian couldn’t get his one-on-one win back that was followed by him immediately being hurt and insta-retired. Whoops!

I was hoping Swagger would find a way to, I don’t know, win a match against Sheamus and head to the seemingly inevitable Cesaro/Swagger finals, but birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim and Sheamus gotta Sheamus. Swagger works on his leg the entire match and Sheamus still just Brogue Kicks him like it’s nothing. But he’s holding his leg, that means pain! The worst part is that despite Sheamus winning, he’s got an excuse for whenever he LOSES … his leg will be hurt, and he’ll be in a match with Batista on Friday that’ll probably end with him getting beaten down further. So if Wade Barrett DOES beat him, he won’t be beating Sheamus and actually earning anything, he’ll be beating an injured guy and get called a coward for exploiting an injury.

Best: Bray Wyatt Shows John Cena His Bo-Face

This is the most important part of the show. Pay close attention.

The Wyatt Family came to the ring to continue their crusade against John Cena, and Bray stopped in the middle to remove his hat and talk directly to Cena’s young fans, assuring them that he wouldn’t let Cena lie to them any longer. This was great heel work, sure, but the important thing is that when Bray used his “talking to little kids” voice, he looked and sounded exactly like Bo Dallas. It is EERIE.

Watch his eyes and listen to the cadence of his voice. I know my Bo Dallas. They have never been more related:


Make me a servant by Secretapewave

To his credit, nothing is scarier than Bo Dallas. The fun theory is that if Bo put a little bass in his voice he’d sound like Bray Wyatt.

(Huge thanks to @steveolou for grabbing that clip. Follow him! Also, the buzzards.)

Worst: John Cena Shows Bray Wyatt His Hilarious Photoshops

After Bray was done, JOKIN’ JOHN CENA trotted out with his junk in his hand to emasculate the Wyatt Family with photoshops and name-calling, because John Cena isn’t just invulnerable in the ring, he’s invulnerable in the brain. This is why I and many good-minded individuals hate John Cena, and I hope you can understand and make the distinction.

John Cena is a great pro wrestler. He is. He also seems like a genuinely good dude in real life, at least as good a dude as you can be when you’re the human embodiment of a corporate mission statement. He appears to an audience that is not me, represents them well, and is the only guy in WWE who truly matters, moves merch and sells shows. That said, looking at him from a critical standpoint is MADDENING, both because of how he acts and because you have to quantify everything I listed above when explaining why how he acted was bad.

Photoshop jokes are not funny. They are the absolute ass’s hole of pro wrestling jokes. They are below birthday cake in the face. They’re especially bad when you’re just shopping a wrestler’s head onto a baby or a woman and being all LOOK AT HOW FUNNY THEY LOOK while a crowd bred on nacho cheese and fart jokes claps along happily. Photoshop jokes alone are bad enough, but they’re especially bad when you’re ONE WEEK REMOVED from a threat that supposedly was going to “end your WWE legacy forever.” You win one wrestling match via fireman’s carry slam and the threat has gone from 99% to zero? How does that work exactly?

But yeah, here comes John The Joke Man out to tell Luke Harper he looks like boogers and laugh at Erick Rowan for smelling like poopie, to reference Myspace and “the Google Machine,” to say “why so serious” in 2014, to say guys with beards must be Santa Claus, to call Bray Wyatt “the eater of the world’s biggest Cinnabon” because he’s fat and John isn’t. One second away from the Husky Bomb we’ve been waiting for since Bray debuted. I swear, when Cena started in on Bray’s white pants I thought he was gonna say they were only available in “husky sizes.” It’s terrifying to watch Cena work like this because he is so clearly the Better of everyone he works with socially, financially and professionally that he can say and do whatever he wants without shoot or kayfabe consequences. It’s the work of a true mad man. Chaos with supreme power. And photoshop.

Bray Wyatt calls Cena out on falling back into these dumb jokes instead of taking challenges seriously, so Cena flips the switch …

And suddenly you wanna get real? I can get real, Jack. I can tell the best jokes but I can also be the most serious! How about a STEEL CAGE MATCH at EXTREME RULES and also you’re a TOTAL PUSSY why don’t you fight me without your PUSSY PALS if you SMELL WHAT THE ROCK IS COOKING

Or something like that.

But yeah, that’s the rub. John is a jokester because he doesn’t take it seriously, but he doesn’t HAVE to … he’s not afraid of anything, even the stuff he’s scripted to be afraid of. He exists outside of the show, above it somehow, and he just drops in to tell fans it’s okay to boo or cheer because they bought a ticket and effortless S.T. the F out of whoever wanders between him and his goals. It’s frustrating, and if I thought the Extreme Rules cage match would end any other way than “Bray Wyatt is a coward, John Cena gets a dramatic moment of victory” I’d be red in the face demanding the opposite.


Best: Awkward, Feather-tailed Layla

First things first, the announce team and/or Fandango are never allowed to compare Layla to Summer Rae and say Layla is the “best dancer partner Fandango ever had.” Anything similar to that. Fandango dancers will forever be competing for second place, and nobody comes close to Andrea “Ann Dango” Lynn. That’s like Roger Taylor and John Deacon arguing over who was the best member of Queen.

Second things first, Layla is a great choice for the new dancer. She can dance, which is a huge improvement over Summer Rae, and a run with Dirty Curty saves her from that weird “you’re getting old, be blonder” purgatory WWE Divas get shuffled into when they hit 32. As a huge LayCool fan I am aware of Layla’s ability to play an aloof, condescending heel, and I’m excited to see where it goes. Summer’s been doing great in NXT over the last year and has a comfy spot on Total Divas, so I’m not worried about her rebounding and doing something worthwhile.

Third things first, one of my favorite things about Layla is how she’s never really looked comfortable on screen. She always seems like she’s looking for a cue or a camera that never comes. Watch her during the picture-in-picture interview, awkwardly looking offscreen when she’s supposed to be preening. Watch her in the ring DURING the picture-in-picture, where she keeps doing dancin’ stuff and doesn’t really know where she’s supposed to be. It’s great. I mean, it’s probably a nightmare for WWE production, but as a viewer it makes me keep an eye on her.

Fourth things first, no, that is not the only reason to keep an eye on her but “Layla is a babe” is not something you need explained to you in a wrestling column.

Worst: So Does Somebody On Raw Hate Emma Or What

Fandango’s stinker match streak has reached 40-0 now, and man, I am really kinda concerned for Emma. She was/is a huge deal down in NXT, and was right alongside Paige in that crop of Divas that were gonna come up and change the game. She’s been in SHIMMER and competed around the world, she’s got a great look and a compelling personality. She lost that match to Paige at arRIVAL and we all figured it was because she was getting called up, and she did, but now Paige is winning matches and holding two belts simultaneously while Emma jobs to FALLING DOWN ONCE in mixed comedy romance tags. What’s going on?

It’s not even really about whether or not you like Emma, either. It’s just confusing that they’d work hard to cultivate this dynamic prospect and then cram her into a hacky role Eva Marie or Jojo could’ve done with zero training. Do you think Aksana would have a hard time tagging in, falling down and getting pinned before almost kissing Santino? Of course not. Emma’s got a much broader skill set than that, and I hope they’re just treading water with stuff we’ll barely remember until the New Divas Division gets refocused and settles in.

I think this angle should end with Santino and Fandango falling in love, but what do I know.

Best: If Adam Rose Wants To Win Back My Support After ENTRANCE THEMEGATE, Consoling A Bunny After It Loses A Game Of Hungry Hungry Hippos Is A Good Start

I have been extremely vocal about the horrible also-ran entrance theme Adam Rose was saddled with after his debut, even launching a popular and socially important #NotYourAdamRoseEntranceTheme trend. Hashtag advocacy is the way of the future, and there’s no better reason to use it than “WWE licensing that one song I like and not being stupid.”

I’m aware that I’m gonna have to get over that, and the first time I’ve enjoyed Rose since his debut was in this promo video. Because hey, I’m not heartless. I’m not going to watch a man beat a bunny mascot in a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos and then console said bunny with the virtues of NON-STOP PARTYING with a frown on my face.

I still kinda want Leo Kruger to step out of the Exotic Express with a machete and everyone forget Adam Rose existed.

Best: Dolph Ziggler Gets Dog Bonered

So THIS was pretty awesome.

The entire first round of the Intercontinental Championship contender tournament was great, assuming the Rob Van Dam match was something People Who Aren’t Brandon enjoyed. We got two big hoss fights, and while I didn’t like the result of one of them, I still enjoyed the match. The best of the three (given Cesaro/Henry’s shortness) was The Miz’s favorite wrestler Dolph Gizzler against BAD NEWS BARRETT, a man who is miraculously still over now that they’ve left the post-Mania crowd.

There was so much to enjoy here. Wade’s offense kinda desperately needs a guy who will die to make it happen, so Ziggler’s the perfect choice. Watch him eat that Winds of Change at 1:00. That was a thing of beauty. Also beautiful was the Bullhammer elbow, now known as the BAD NEWS BULLHAMMER, because they cannot stop changing the names of Wade’s finishers. He KILLED him with it, and that’s two weeks in a row that the elbow looked good. All they needed to do was drop the Rainmaker setup and have him wrestle guys who aren’t afraid to get bowed in the face. I don’t want Nexus on Nexus violence, but a Barrett/Heath Slater finish would light my world on fire.

Great stuff, and I hope Barrett takes out Sheamus next week with some level of competency. I’ve got a feeling it’s gonna be Sheamus hobbling around like he’s helpless for 10 minutes while still dominating and then Wade getting lucky at the last minute, but WWE’s done a great job of proving me wrong lately, so we’ll see.

+1 Dog Boner. Somebody important get Wade to actually start calling it that. They don’t have to explain it.

Best/Worst: Congratulations On Your Epic WrestleMania Win, Daniel Bryan, Here’s Your Midcard Feud With Kane

Check it out, Zack Ryder got on Raw again.

Stephanie McMahon shows up in a backstage segment to berate Kane. A lot of her logic doesn’t make sense because Kane’s basically done whatever management demanded for years (including anger management) and Stephanie wants him to toe the line, but also be a Godless hell monster who doesn’t listen to anybody and destroys things with Christian fire. So … well, Kane removes his mask from Steph’s glass case of emotion and holds it up like a hand puppet, declaring that he was gonna be the OOOOOOLD STONE COLD and take out Daniel Bryan at Extreme Rules, or whenever. Sadly he didn’t make the mask actually talk like a puppet.

This is good because

1. Daniel Bryan and Kane have a ton of history, especially now that Kane’s a corporate sell-out, and
2. If Daniel Bryan gets a few midcard feuds with guys who can’t possibly be champion, he’ll get to keep the belt for a while

This is bad, however, because

1. Bryan is now in CM Punk land, where he’s the end-all-be-all legendary champion who has to wrestle in the middle of the show because Grown Folks Is Talkin’ in the main events, and
2. After using the flying headbutt, crossface and rolling German suplexes at WrestleMania, Bryan’s being stuck in a post-Mania feud for the title against Kane, just like … the other guy.

If you’d like a fix for this, just have Bryan defend the title in cool matches against guys like Kane (or Ziggler, or Del Rio, or Swagger) on Raws and Smackdowns in spotlight main events, then save the “important” stuff (against Orton, Batista, Cena, whoever) for the special events. We get more Bryan matches, Bryan’s title reign means something because he has an f-load of defenses and the pay-per-views still get main-evented by the guy who deserves and has earned the right to main-event them.


Best: 3MB Main-Events Raw

I don’t care if Jinder and Drew hung out on the apron like Divas in a 10-Diva tag, it still counts.

Best: Evolution Is Back With Authority! (Give Me My Wrestling Pulitzer Now Please)

1. Did Charles Robinson just disqualify an 11-man team for punching during a wrestling match? Did he do so without even trying to get things under control? Did he disqualify Seth Rollins for trying to jump over the top rope? I feel like Lil Naitch really mailed that one in.

2. THE DAMNED NUMBERS GAME! Finally, The Shield knows what it’s like to feel the wrath of physical Sudoku.

3. Like most of you, I popped for the Evolution theme starting up. Here’s the thing, though … I never liked Evolution. They weren’t a thing I enjoyed. They were Triple H at his worst, Ric Flair at the end of his career and Orton and Batista before they ripened. It was a lot of helicopter and nightclub videos and being the poorest-ever-man’s Four Horsemen. Still, though, I dug them here. Why is that?

Is it because we haven’t seen them together in a while? Is it because Triple H is one of the best performers on the show all of a sudden, Batista DESPERATELY needs a direction other than “I wear Air Jordans and don’t care what’s happening around me” and Orton needs someone around him to hold him up and show the world how good he’s gotten? Is it because it was truly unexpected for them to formally reform with the music and gimmick and everything? Is it because of how badly I want Flair to show up as their manager and rope in Charlotte and Sasha Banks to tie-in the Triple H WrestleMania entrance as foreshadowing? Am I just really excited for that six-man tag?

Whatever the answer is, that’s two Raws in a row that’ve gone off the air with The Shield main-eventing and me excited to see the next week’s show. That’s fantastic. I almost don’t know how to handle being excited for Raw. KEEP IT GOING, EVERYBODY.

Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night

Beejus Smithsonian

Is this action figure promo the start of a porn? Because it feels like the start of a porn.

Lester

“That’s not even a real sheep!” – John Cena

John Godot

Paige realises she has many more enemies than friends? Hopefully she realises her three worst enemies are those goons at the announce table.

Raven

Orton and Batista: One refuses to wear pants while the other can’t stop panting.

LBCS

“@WWEZeb
IS @RealPaigeWWE LEGAL??? HMMM…I MIGHT HAVE TO CHECK THAT OUT. @JCLayfield”

PHRASING

FirstDerivative

Sheamus/Swagger – for when Cena/Batista is too ethnic.

PhilBallins

I would like to share with you my all time favorite wrestling knock knock joke (no credit to me, not sure who originally made it up):

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Check wunt.
Check wunt who?
AWWWWWWW YEAH

Goat Faced Killer

I just call him Sadnow…

Harry Longabaugh

“In case of existential identity crisis, break glass.”

Heisenblerg

Happy Passover, everybody! In case you aren’t aware, Passover is the day each year when WWE Creative decides anew to pass over Dolph Ziggler for a push.

Thanks for reading, everybody. See you on Wednesday for vintage NXT, Friday for NXT proper and next Monday for John Cena Discovers Newgrounds.

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