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Please click through to enjoy the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for May 13, 2013. BITCH.
Worst: What The F**k Is This Segment
Last night’s Raw was bookended by two of the worst 20-minute segments they’ve done all year: a show-ending confrontation between Best And Least Vulnerable Wrestler Ever Triple H against Brock Lesnar standing five-feet deep in an open grave, and a show-opening dance contest featuring tons of stalling, limp fighting and nobody actually dancing. If this week’s column features too many instances of curse words with stars in them, I apologize.
Anyway, in the interest of getting through this without snapping my keyboard in half and punching my computer monitor, here’s an as-concise-as-possible rundown of everything wrong with the dance contest:
1. THEY STARTED RAW WITH A DANCE CONTEST AND THEN BAIT-AND-SWITCHED THE DANCE CONTEST
That is all.
But no, seriously, there was so much wrong with this. Is this the first time we’ve seen a parquet floor affixed to the ring for a dance contest? Don’t they do dance contests all the time with the normal ring? Is this a courtesy to the women in high heels? And if so, does that expose the bouncy-ass nature of a wrestling mat by saying “it hurts really badly when guys fall down, but it’s basically a moon bounce and can’t hold up a lady in heels?”
So much was bad. Both men got full entrances, which took up a lot of time and was counterproductive because Fandango’s entrance is literally him dancing the only routine he knows with the lady with whom he’s supposed to be dance-offing. Jericho brings out a celebrity/ringer dance partner, but she never gets to dance. They get great heat on Fandango’s first stall (which, if they’re doing this dumb segment at all, should’ve been when he flipped out and jumped Jericho), but then had him execute some loose, vague plan about his partner collapsing with an ankle injury and getting Jericho to look at her for a second. THAT was made stupider by Fandango leaving the ring, having to wait for Jericho to turn his back for seriously two seconds and then run back in and attack him, creating this huge distance that nerfs any sneak attack advantage he would’ve had. Couldn’t Fandango have just been like “My name is FAAAAAN-” and then turned and blasted Jericho in the face with the mic? Same attack kickstart without the convoluted plan and the 20 minutes of pointless stalling.
And the very worst part is the return of Summer Rae as Fandango’s partner, once again replacing Fandangal/Ann Dango/Jan Dango/Magical Brunette Winking Dance Lady. Such a colossal downgrade. Maybe the real Fandango dance partner wouldn’t throw in on Dirty Curty’s extensive plan for momentary distraction.
Best: RIP Cool Dad, 2011-2013
In fact, the only good to come of this dance off (besides Fandango’s multi-colored gear) is the interview later on in the show where Chris Jericho decided to be a goddamn grown-up, put away the FAN-DODOBIRD-DING-DANGO jokes and promise to just beat the snot out of the dude for pissing him off instead of trying to obtusely humiliate him via scorecards and baby-talk. This might’ve been the best moment on the show, quite frankly. Jericho’s advertised “new character” for his End Of The World As You Know It should’ve been a good guy with his bad guy weird coolness and sensibilities, not “I have a new jacket.”
If I was in charge of WWE (and I will be within the next three months, at least in terms of helicopter segment prognostication), I’d use Fandango as a ridiculous man determined to beat the ridiculousness out of men who should stop being so ridiculous.
Best: Zack Ryder Gets Ryback’d
Zack Ryder continued to be hilariously pathetic in his 40ish-second losing effort to Ryback, BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY:
Worst: Hey Kids, Watch People Talk To Someone Slightly Off-Camera On A Tiny Screen So You Don’t Have To Watch The Wrestling Parts Of Our Wrestling Show
The WWE app is A New Way To Watch Television. Furthermore, it is A New Way To Watch Television. You know how you watch television? And how there are other ways to watch television? Well, you can watch television on the WWE app, which makes it A New Way To Watch Television. A New Way To Watch Television could be something like “while hanging upside down from monkey bars” too, but someone has probably already done that. Nobody has watched unimportant moments from a TV show on a tiny screen in their hand while a new, live episode of that TV show is happening on their TV, so yes, in case you were wondering, WWE app is A New Way To Watch Television.
I have waited so long to watch television on multiple screens with conflicting audio so everything happens in 5 second intervals and I can’t understand anybody. In a related story, I am Ozymandias. But no, it’s like WWE wants their TV show to be a 3-hour Vine video. A New Way To Watch Vine Videos.
Worst: The Tag Team Division Is Now The Divas Division
I’d totally forgotten about this match until I was putting the report together today. Hoss Funk takes on the Prime Time Players, they wrestle for about a minute and a half, and then a 400-pound giant pro wrestler gets poked in the throat by a plastic hair accessory, which incapacitates him long enough for a different guy to roll him on his back like a helpless, futureless turtle and get the three. I guess we’re finally building to that Prime Time Players/Team Hell No match everyone’s been waiting to see.
(photo via Punchsport Pagoda)
Worst: Who Died And Made Teddy Long The King Of Extreme Rules, Or
Worst: Alberto Del Rio Got SCREWED
Here’s the timeline of events:
1. Dolph Ziggler wins the World Heavyweight Championship by cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase on Alberto Del Rio immediately following a match with Jack Swagger. This pisses off Del Rio AND Swagger, so a triple threat match is made for the World Heavyweight Championship at Extreme Rules. Good so far.
2. Two weeks ago on Raw, the Extreme Rules World Heavyweight Championship match participants have their managers/seconds/familiars — Ricardo Rodriguez, Big E Langston and Zeb Colter — compete in a triple threat match on Raw, with the winner’s wrestler getting to pick the stipulation for the pay-per-view match. Ricardo wins the match. Del Rio announces that he wants to compete for the championship in a ladder match.
3. Ladders get introduced into the ongoing feud between the three (because “poetry” or whatever), and while fighting for possession of a ladder during a confrontation on Smackdown, Jack Swagger kicks the shit out of Dolph Ziggler’s face for real and gives him a concussion. Monday comes and Dolph Ziggler’s still brutally concussed (and at home live-tweeting Raw, which was pretty amazing).
4. Teddy Long, a guy who is in charge of neither Raw nor Smackdown, appears on Raw to announce that Dolph Ziggler won’t be medically cleared to compete at Extreme Rules and will not be stripped of the championship, so instead Alberto Del Rio and Jack Swagger will have a number one contender ‘I Quit’ match.
How does that work, exactly? Teddy not being in power is annoying but another in an endless example of WWE writing a hierarchy of authority figures, forgetting what they wrote and just having characters be whatever they want them to be situationally, so whatever. But seriously? Alberto Del Rio gets named the number one contender, Jack Swagger gets mad about it and attacks him a bunch, they get put into a triple threat match, Del Rio wins an opportunity to pick the stipulation of the match, Jack Swagger hurts the champion and now Alberto Del Rio’s got to compete in another number one contenders match against Swagger with a stipulation decided arbitrarily by Teddy long? One that is basically the same stipulation as the main-event (the only difference between Last Man Standing and I Quit is numbers vs. words)?
Honestly, couldn’t they have just had Del Rio and Swagger compete in a ladder match for a title shot? Or if they want to give it a non-ladder stip that doesn’t ape the main, couldn’t they have just called the I Quit match a submission match? It’s the same idea, but technically different enough, and both guys have submission finishes.
(this Raw is not getting any better, spoiler alert)
(being bored is A New Way To Watch Television.)
Worst: Damien Sandow Doesn’t Sing
And now we enter that shifty part of Raw where every match is two minutes long, nothing matters and characters purposefully act weird or change directions so you won’t enjoy them.
Damien Sandow made us laugh with his parody version of Randy Orton’s entrance theme, so this week he has to remind us of that, but then NOT sing a condescending song to Kofi Kingston, because he knows we’d enjoy it. That’s effective heeling, I guess, but it’s not like anybody but jerks like me loved his act last week, so bringing it up and taking it away THIS week was lame. We didn’t get him yelling “I see you JUM-PING! I hear you JUMP-INNNNGGG” or anything.
The match itself was fine, but it was too quick to be anything, and was another example of WWE’s “this guy has a pay-per-view match coming up, let’s have him effortlessly beat guys for a week or two no matter what else he’s been doing, because nobody remembers back farther than that or cares anyway” booking trope. Kofi Kingston was losing in 30 seconds to guys two months ago, and now he’s beating guys just as fast. One hand feeds the other. It’s weird. If WWE hadn’t spent all show taking extra commercial breaks to push A New Way To Watch Television they would’ve had time to give these guys 10 minutes and entertain somebody somewhere.
Best: Mark Henry, Illustrator, Or
Worst: WWE Covering Up Sheamus
WWE Fan Nation edited it out of their video (boooo), but Mark Henry explaining the rules of a strap match by forcing Josh Mathews to strap up, shoving him to the ground and then nonchalantly dragging him around to touch the posts was amazing. He wasn’t even really that violent or threatening about it, he just told him to do it, then walked around and illustrated how it’d go. If Josh had played along instead of being a little asshole about it, maybe he wouldn’t have gotten his arm jerked around so much.
(Before I continue, how hilarious was WWE last night having to quickly explain how long-standing gimmick match stipulations work, because all they’ve done in the last ten years is rehash cage, ladder and last man standing matches? Explaining the strap match was fine, I guess, but then they had to get all Royal Rumble rules about elimination tags. In a few years they’re gonna be like “this is a FEMALE match! The object of which is to pin your opponent, but also have no male reproductive organs. Here’s footage from Melina vs. Alicia Fox to illustrate.”)
I’ve read a few people saying “THAT’s how Sheamus should act as a face!” because he didn’t just show up and say “f**k you” and kick Mark Henry in the behind-nuts or whatever, but I disagree. First of all, those recap videos they showed were SUSPICIOUS. Remember last week when Mark Henry was on color commentary and Sheamus was wrestling Wade Barrett, but still took the time to wander out and Brogue Kick him for no reason, leading to that epic ass-whooping with the belt? Yeah, they showed that video starting with Mark Henry rushing the ring to attack Sheamus, saying “Mark Henry had fallen out of his chair” instead of Sheamus cheap-shotted him first. MARK HENRY FELL OUT OF HIS CHAIR, GUYS. HE WAS TOO FAT AND HOLDS IT AGAINST EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU. SHEAMUS IS GREAT.
Worst: That Corny Strap
Last week, Mark Henry ate Sheamus up with stupid and we got an awesome TwitPic out of it. I guess the people in charge saw that and said NO REALISTIC INJURIES IN THE STRAP MATCH, GUYS, so now Sheamus and Henry have to whip each other with gigantic, shitty rolls of gauze. Look at those things, they look like fettucini. GET OVER HERE, FELLA, I NEED TO INCAPACITATE YOU WITH THE BELT FROM MY BATH ROBE.
I don’t want to advocate wrestlers getting hurt unnecessarily and I’m certainly no fan of death matches, but guys, if you’re gonna announce a strap match, do a strap match. Don’t half ass it. Let two of the toughest guys in your company beat the ever-loving shit out of each other and let us remember it forever. My dad hasn’t spent the last 30 years fawning over a Manny Fernandez/Abdullah The Butcher sombrero match because of the intense interpersonal backstage drama and the prop forks.
Worst: Let’s Add More Colons And Numbers To This Movie Title, Guys
The full title of the movie is 12 Rounds 2: Reloaded. Two separated numbers, a colon/r-word combination AND it doesn’t make any sense! I would’ve called it I’ll Go To The Police If I Have To.
Worst: So Long, Antonio Cesaro’s 1-Match Push
Here’s about two minutes of a three-minute Randy Orton trouncing of Antonio Cesaro, number 786 in a series of infinity, only a week after Cesaro announcing that he was done being stupid and ready to focus on winning. I feel like Cesaro should just pull a Gail Kim the next time WWE approaches him 30 seconds before Raw starts (which I assume is how they plan out the show) and says DRY ERASE BOARD SAYS YOU LOSE TO ORTON IN SUB 200 SECONDS K BYE. Roll his glorious ass out of the ring and bail. Let Wade Barrett be heads AND tails on the coin they flip to book the match.
The only highlight was this kid, who is either really happy about Orton’s win or really angry about Cesaro’s loss, depending on how you wanna look at it.
(I’m gonna say he’s mad about Cesaro losing, because if you scale him up he looks like pretty much every dude I know who is into Chikara.)
Best: Welcome Back, Babyface Miz, Let’s See How Long We Can Go Without Talking
Heath Slater and The Miz (back from filming the TV movie Christmas Bounty, which I am legitimately shocked does not co-star Melissa Joan Hart) had a nice little match, mostly built around Slater’s spectacular ability to make bad offense look great by whipping his cartoon lion’s mane around. Seriously, if you were coloring a lion in a coloring book, you’d use that same shade of orange, right? I’m not 100% that Miz got in the figure-four the way he pretended he did — it looked like Slater’s foot was too far in, and Miz just kinda held his leg in place when he fell back — but it worked.
The key to keeping Miz moving forward as a face that EVERYONE can enjoy is to keep him off the microphone. Miz can be a good talker, sure, but just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you have to do it constantly. I don’t think anybody in WWE’s gotten as much mic time as Miz over the last few years, and it’s gotten to the point that even when he has something to say, it sounds awful because Miz is saying it. I don’t need to hear him call himself THE MOST MUST-SEE whatever, I want to see him kick dudes with enthusiasm, fall into wonderfully unbelievable counters during matches and tap guys out to a proper-looking figure-four. He’s got a lot of energy in the ring when he’s not doing that OKAY NOW WE DO THIS, OKAY NOW WE DO THIS thing he rushes through a lot, and that’s good.
Worst: They Seriously Just Had An Injured John Cena Beat All Three Members Of The Shield By Himself, Didn’t They
What isn’t good is this.
Raw took a bunch of things I love and never give Worsts to — Daniel Bryan, The Shield, elimination tag team matches, 25 minute matches on TV — and ruined it with two impossible-to-enjoy things: John Cena instantly triumphing over obstacles for no reason, and non-stop commercial breaks to advertise their New Way To Watch Television.
The commercial breaks thing I’ve talked about so many times I can’t articulate it any more. If more than four minutes of wrestling happens at a time, somebody in the production truck goes COMMERCIAL, COMMERCIAL, but if guys are farting around doing nothing for 20 minutes under the guise of “dance contest,” those motherf**kers hold tight. Furthermore, one of the things I remember about commercial breaks when I was a kid is that the announce team HATED them. They’d always be like “AW NUTS, WE GOTTA TAKE A COMMERCIAL BREAK FANS, BUT THE CAMERAS WILL BE ROLLING AND WE’LL SHOW YOU EVERYTHING WHEN YOU GET BACK, WE SWEAR.” Now Cole just goes “can cena get back into it yes yes he can when raw rolls on” and then they spend 8 minutes with the f**king Popeye’s Mammy and the only way to watch the show we’ve tuned in to watch at length is A New Way To Watch Television.
As for Cena … Jesus Christ. Daniel Bryan and Kane were KILLING it in this match while Cena stood on the apron trying to be the center of attention again. The Shield were on. Everything was exciting and fairly logical and great, and then it’s down to 3-on-1. WWE Boring Trope Writing says that Cena would then eliminate TWO of his opponents before accidentally walking into a finisher or a behind-the-ref’s-back chair-shot or something and lose, but NOPE, Cena was just straight up defeating the Shield by himself. With a hurt ankle.
I hate you so much for making me Worst this, WWE. I hate it so much.
Best: Ryback Is Still Pretty Great Right Now
After the match, Ryback showed up and jacked up Cena’s leg with a chair, because he’s got a title match on Sunday, and the only way to beat Cena is to beat him with objects for two solid months in a row and then hope for the best. Ryback’s got such a specific plan of attack and I love that he’s executing it so crisply, down to “debut a bunch of elbow pads and beanies with my big R logo on it so I’ll have something to put on the WWE title side plates.” I want so badly for him to kick Cena’s leg out from his leg and Shell Shock him into GO FILM THE MARINE 4 oblivion for the summer, but lord, there’s gonna be a crane or a bulldozer or something on stage for Cena to Attitude Adjust Ryback from and win the match, isn’t there?
Worst: WWE Goes Through The Motions Of Their Post-Match Attacks Even When They Don’t Make Sense
This might’ve objectively been the worst part of the show for me. Worse than the dance-off, worse than Super Cena, worse than Triple H going to the Bitch Well. Here’s why:
Teddy Long put Big E Langston’s opponent for later on in the night in the “hands of the WWE Universe,” which has gone from “people who watch WWE at home or in the arena” to “people who have accepted A New Way To Watch Television.” So folks vote on the app between Del Rio and Jack Swagger, and somehow Jack Swagger wins 65% to 35%. King smartly brings up that maybe fans wanted to see Swagger get beaten up and want Del Rio to be fresh and okay for his match at Extreme Rules, but it was very, very clear that WWE wanted/expected Del Rio to win.
Why? After the match (which Jack Swagger won by count-out, in an odd “face overcoming the monster heel” sorta way, like Del Rio might’ve), Alberto Del Rio (the good guy) runs down to the ring for no reason and starts trying to punch Swagger. Langston shows back up and gets into it for a bit, but he’s quickly dismissed, and that distraction allows Del Rio to clear the ring of Swagger. Del Rio stands tall and his music plays, even though he wasn’t in the match, had no reason to be there, and was attacking someone unprovoked.
Here was WWE’s plan: Del Rio wins the voting and faces Langston. He wins by count-out when Langston accidentally takes himself out, and before Del Rio can recover from the tough match, Swagger shows up and jumps him. Langston shows back up and goes crazy but gets dumped, and Del Rio takes advantage of the distraction, clotheslines Swagger out of the ring and stands tall while his music plays. The most important part of that plan, Del Rio winning the poll, didn’t happen and they did the post-match stuff anyway. How f**king lazy are you?
Best: FROM JUNGLE
AJ Lee gets a bright, shiny Best for breaking out Masato Yoshino’s headscissors into an octopus stretch, aka the amazingly-named FROM JUNGLE, to get a win against Natalya. Natalya gets her own Best for tapping out via slapping AJ on the ass a bunch of times, because why not.
Worst: The Bellas Color Commentary, Because Seriously
I understand that you have to have the Bella Twins around. They’re beautiful women, so they come in handy at press junkets. They’re twins, which makes them marketable, and make shows like ‘Total Divas’ an easy sell. HERE ARE OUR BEAUTIFUL WRESTLING TWINS. They’re dating either the best (Daniel Bryan) or most important (John Cena) people in the company. Totally get it.
But HOLY SHIT are they the most counter-productive people ever when you put a microphone on them. They apparently don’t care about wrestling or understand how it works, and I felt bad for poor Kaitlyn out there trying to get AJ over and getting shit on every time she opened her mouth. When AJ leads Natalya out of the ring and slaps her, Kaitlyn’s all “that’s a loud slap, AJ slaps better than anybody” and the Bellas IMMEDIATELY cut her off with a terse “I didn’t hear anything.” There’s a difference between playing characters/being “bitches” and actually actively ruining your co-workers’ ability to make money.
The Bellas being so awful turned JBL, Cole and Lawler into NXT season 3 Michael Cole, guffawing about how everything was terrible, everyone around them is talentless and everyone’s a freak. They kept on about the “freak show” and the “sinking of the Titanic” while Natalya and AJ tried to have a good match, and yeah, that freak show shit was directed at Khali and Hornswoggle for standing out at the corner for no reason, but it also very clearly included “women who are trying to be wrestlers.” It was terrible. Absolutely terrible.
Worst: Here’s Where I Calmly Explain What I Did Not Enjoy About Triple H’s 20-Minute Show-Ending Opus
AND SPEAKING OF RUINING YOUR CO-WORKERS’ ABILITY TO MAKE MONEY, we get to the REAL main event of the show: Triple H standing in the center of a steel cage, doing everything he can to be the only important person in the room while Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman act super afraid of him. At its core, the segment could’ve worked for me — Triple H has been harassed and insulted, so he just says f**k it, lowers the cage and demands that Lesnar faces him. Lesnar strolls in thinking he’s top shit, Triple H uses RIGHTEOUS RAGE to fight him off and stands tall to end the show. People who love Triple H love it, Brock looks vulnerable for the first time, and we’ve got an easy-to-follow story for the Extreme Rules match.
That’s not what happened. What happened is that an invulnerable character continued his dominance, demanding that the vulnerable character (Brock, who lost their WrestleMania match and has had every attempt to get into Triple H’s head thwarted the instant he tried it) do what he says. Triple H delivers a promo about how he’s the coolest and toughest and baddest. Paul Heyman and Lesnar come out, Heyman says three words and immediately Triple H is talking over them, explaining how nobody cares and how Paul Heyman is fat and now Brock Lesnar is a coward who can’t do anything and is afraid that if he keeps losing to controlling corporate assholes like Triple H he won’t be able to keep making money. A total “Alberto Del Rio rents those cars” moment. Triple H then, having emasculated Brock as much as possible, tells him to get into the ring. Brock refuses for a reasonable reason (he shouldn’t fight for free), so Triple H, having told Brock to “be a man” at least three other times, calls Lesnar a bitch. THAT brings Lesnar to the ring, but only slowly and cautiously (as Triple H flexes and screams and wears skull Latin shirts and is cool and tough and smart). Lesnar finally enters the ring and attacks Triple H, but H totally no-sells it and kicks Brock’s ass, sending him scampering away with looks of shock and terror on his face. Triple H wants to fight more, but Brock is a bitch coward!
Hey, who wants to pay 50 dollars to watch Triple H beat up Brock Lesnar some more?
And that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of a grown man with three daughters put in partial charge of a global, publicly-traded company who can only define worth by whether you’re a man or a bitch. Triple H is the worst and you know this. Decency, logical storytelling, intelligent character writing, exciting television production and episodic arc execution are the tools of “fat nerds on the internet in their parents’ basement” or whatever.
Best: This Raw Depressed The Shit Out Of Me, So Here’s A Happy Movie Update
So hey, that’s Raw! Sorry, everyone.
In brighter news that you can scroll past if you don’t care about (I’m looking at you, “stop talking about being vegan” crowd), we just finished up our first weekend of shooting for my upcoming film Meet Me There, and it is such a continuous dream come true I can’t even explain it. If you want to follow along with what we’re creating, be sure to go like our thing on Facebook and click the like button on everything you see there.
What I’m getting at is that I got to spend a couple of days working with artist Jill Thompson, and one of the bonuses of having her in my home is that I could say “hey Jill, can we use that Daniel Bryan shirt you designed so I can shoehorn a bunch of wrestling references into a thing that has nothing to do with wrestling?” and have her say yes.
I hope that when we’re done, we’ll have created A New Way To Watch Movies.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
Guys…I think I ate the app. I ate the app! I ATE THE APP!
I hope Ryback can digest corn.
The internet has turned on Zack Ryder so hard he might as well be the newest season of Community.
“You know, Mark. I’ve seen the error of me ways. Thanks fer that beating yer gave me last week, fella. Sorry for being a dick for the last couple of years. I’ve got some issues and moight needed professional help.”
HHH-Lesnar in two words: THIS BORKNESS
The villain in the new Orton flick’s nefarious scheme? To poison all the baby oil in Gotham City.
Oops Pow Surprise
Have these two guys ever wrestled before?
It’s becoming clear that Lawler abducted the princess Lady and is turning into Jerry “the Ice King” Lawler.”
“Let’s go Bryan” chants on raw? I can’t wait for Sheamus to change his name to Sheamus O’Brian to try to steal the heat on that too.
Kane just became the Joakim Noah of this match/rivalry
See you guys next week.