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Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for May 5, 2014.
Best: The Two Things I Like Most About Pro Wrestling
1. The Shield
2. Battles Royal
If I had a third thing on there it’d probably be “making the secondary titles seem important,” so it’s understandable that a battle royal for the unforgivably-neglected United States Championship featuring a guy from The Shield would bet he high point of my night. I liked a lot of this, especially the moments when Ambrose was allowed to really fight to keep his championship reign going … his 2-on-1 stuff with Rybaxel was particularly enjoyable, and easy to affix with a not-even-implied “this is important because Ryback HATES The Shield” subplot. Ambrose did a great job of selling his frustrating at the loss, too, with Roman having to pat him on the back repeatedly and console him while he clutched the ropes and made Yosemite Sam faces.
Worst: The Anti-Battle Royal?
The interesting thing about the battle royal is how “wrong” it felt. It felt like they someone had written a totally logical battle royal, and then Vince sauntered in with a literal hatchet and started hacking the white board to pieces.
So much of it felt off. Santino eliminating Dolph Ziggler of all people with a Cobra a week after Ziggler was in the big Celebrity Guest segment, then managing to briefly fight off Curtis Axel AND Ryback. Big Show and Mark Henry getting the “big guys finally notice each other” bit normally reserved for Royal Rumbles, then Big Show ignoring the heat a big man power showdown can get by throwing shitty body blows. Kofi Kingston’s big elimination save spot being him touching the ring apron to keep from hitting the floor (which I guess the announce team thought was a shoot one-handed handstand?), then ending immediately with Ambrose, the hero of the match for all intents and purposes, just kneeing Kofi in the stomach to eliminate him. Cole’s constant reminder that these mean have DREAMED of being United States champion. Nobody does that.
I don’t know. So much of last night’s Raw felt off for me that even the stuff I enjoyed didn’t ring true. Maybe I just had a bad afternoon.
Best: Does This Mean Sheamus Gets His US Champion Gear Back?
I’m not sure if anybody else cares or remembers it, but my favorite Sheamus gear ever is from his first run as United States Champion back in 2011. He went full USA-themed with it. The stars on the kneepads are my favorite part:
If we get that back, I won’t complain. Ambrose is clearly going to be stuck in six-man tags until he’s ready (or WWE’s ready) for something bigger, so putting a secondary title on a workhorse like Sheamus who ABSOLUTELY SHOULD NOT BE in the main-event scene is a great idea. Let Sheamus and Bad News Barrett tear it up with guys who aren’t afraid to hit and get hit back until you’re ready to tie the belts together, and hey, if you never want to do that you’ve got two cool, easily-divided divisions full of great matches.
And speaking of improving on the idea of Sheamus …
Best: Dickhead Sheamus
Sheamus was a total heel tonight, and I love it. My problem with him all along has been that he’s a HUMONGOUS ASSHOLE and people cheer him for it. Sheamus has always been a heel. Always. At his peak of fan love he was eating racially-specific foods so he could racially-specific shit in a Mexican guy’s car. Remember when he was in court making Jew jokes and berating Ricardo Rodriguez? Yeah, this guy(‘s character) is an AWFUL human being, and pointing that out almost instantly makes him one of my favorite wrestlers. In the ring, I’ve never had a complaint.
Dean Ambrose was put into an unwinnable situation, defending against 19 other guys in a match where he doesn’t have to take a fall to lose his title, and he almost wins it. He fights off Jack Swagger, Ryback and Curtis Axel by himself. Then Sheamus, king of the opportune cheap shot that gets reclassified by history as a “decisive win,” blind side Brogue Kicks him and tosses him out. Afterwards, Sheamus finds Renee so he can gloat about how there are “no hard feelings,” and how he thinks winning a title like this is totally fine. Total garbage human.
Worst: Renee Checking Out Sheamus As He Leaves
Eyes up, Renee.
Is this why Josh Mathews is always staring off into space after interviews? So people won’t think he’s checking out John Cena’s ass?
Worst: This Is Not Doing A Lot To Make Cesaro Exciting, Or
Best: The “Punch RVD In The Face Repeatedly” Finish
WWE’s “do the same thing five times in a row” booking is never more frustrating than when they pair up a guy like Cesaro with a guy like Rob Van Dam. My personal opinions aside, what’s the end game of taking a guy who was riding a massive upswing of popularity, pairing him with the least popular person with crowds IMAGINABLE following a WrestleMania with that Undertaker match, then feuding him with a longstanding fan favorite who never, ever gets booed? Are you just doing it out of spite? To see if you can? Where does this go? Your Intercontinental Champion is a heel, your new United States Champion is basically a heel and there’s no way Cesaro springs from Rob Van Dam DQ losses to a championship match with Daniel Bryan.
Anyway, if Cesaro’s gonna lose to Van Dam, I applaud the finish of choice being Cesaro punching RVD in the face and being unable to stop. That’s a wrestling strategy I can identify with. Why don’t more people do that? When he goes for a monkey flip, punch him in the face. When he looks around all goofy before doing Rolling Thunder, wait for the sound of a Donkey Kong barrel coming your way, move out of the way, then punch the airbrushed Splat Toy splattered where you were lying.
Worst: Brandon Stroud, For Not Wanting To See The Wyatt Family Anymore
The cage match at Extreme Rules between Bray Wyatt, John Cena and a child actor with a Mister Microphone turned me off so badly to the idea of the Wyatt Family feuding with anybody that I couldn’t enjoy the weekly Wyatt sermon. What is happening to me?
If the idea is for me to not believe a word out of the heel’s mouth and think he’s a coward who can’t get the job done by himself, mission accomplished. John Cena The Character is my least favorite person in the world right now and I can’t get behind Wyatt, because all he’s done is lose, win in a way that helps nobody and makes zero sense, then enlist the help of a mystical child who I guess will NEVER APPEAR AGAIN. Even cool ideas like “the Bray Wyatt demon temporarily jumped into the child’s body and momentarily brought Husky Harris back to life before jumping back” was negated on the same show with an immediate, unnecessary followup interview where a kid who may or may not be the Black Scorpion tells us to follow the buzzards.
The only highlight here is that John Cena’s response to the Wyatt Family will happen on a show I don’t recap. I hope their rubber match at Payback is a “wrestle on a cruise ship” match, and that it capsizes.
Best/Worst: I Guess We’re Still On Step One Of The Rhodes Breakup
The Rhodes Brothers are breaking up, or they aren’t, and it’s taking forever. They never seen to progress to a step two, it’s just the reiteration of step one, over and over. Oh no, Goldust accidentally hit Cody! Oh no, Cody accidentally hit Goldust! And then three months have passed.
That frustration at storytelling formula laziness aside, I liked this match, and it was full of stuff I wasn’t expecting. I’m a big fan of Ryback’s splash off the second rope where he just flexes and falls forward. Who the hell would actually get hit by that move? I also loved Cody suddenly expanding his moveset to the breaking point. Is he stealing Ted DiBiase’s rope run fakeout clothesline? Is he throwing SHINING WIZARDS? And the crowd just goes “weehhhh.”
A supplemental Worst goes to Cody’s missile dropkick, though. Now that CM Punk’s not doing a flying elbow, Cody’s missile dropkick is the worst move in wrestling. There is no way that hurts somebody. Dude springboards, makes his body perfectly straight, barely boops his opponent on the shoulder and then they fall in opposite directions. That move has ZERO impact. It’s the AJ Lee bumping of wrestling strikes. It makes Shawn Michaels’ chops look like Clotheslines From Hell. Now that I think about it, even the Disaster Kick kinda does that. He’s not really kicking you, he’s just tucking his foot back and having it touch you as his body flies by. You need to LAY INTO some motherf*ckers, Cody, you are good at wrestling. HAMMER BLOWS.
Worst: Let’s Ask The WWE Universe What They Thought About Cody’s Match
Worst: A Mexican Holiday Celebrated By Two Puerto Rican Guys Dressed Like Spaniards
Best: Heath Slater Rules
There were two highlights to this objectively low-lit segment: El Torito trying to eat an entire ball of wrapped candy because he’s an animal, and Heath Slater trying to avoid being beaten up by Los Matadores by throwing in with them. I love that Heath Slater’s lack of commitment to the team is a running joke. He’s just gonna stand there like a deer in the headlights when The Shield’s beating up Jinder and Drew, and he’s gonna yell olé to avoid another nutshot table bump. Heath Slater is my favorite.
Also, he’s increasingly dressed like Hallowicked. Is that just me?
Worst: Antonio Alexander Langston
In the tradition of Big E and Cesaro before him, Alexander Rusev is now just “Rusev,” because Vince McMahon thinks every male name that isn’t “Vince” or “Hunter” is gay. To restate a point I feel like I’ve made a dozen times before, a wrestler can have a full name and still be called what WWE wants to call them. For example, Cesaro’s name can be “Antonio Cesaro” and we just call him Cesaro. The Antonio shouldn’t disappear forever. In WCW, Bill Goldberg became “Goldberg,” but we still acknowledge him as Bill. Hell, in WWE, Dave Batista became “Batista” and it’s fine. They still call him Dave. Nobody’s weirded out or confused by it. We can remember basic information, WWE. Yet still, Cesaro’s not “Antonio Cesaro” anymore, he’s just Cesaro. Antonio is not a part of the character. Big E sounds like a Mega Man power-up.
Worst: Does Rusev Only Wrestle Black Guys?
The only people we’ve seen BIG AL (his new name in this column from now on) demolish on Raw have been Xavier Woods and R-Truth. It didn’t seem weird because they’re pals or whatever. But now he gets a new opponent, and it’s Kofi Kingston. Is this a trend? Are we supposed to be noticing this? Does Lana’s “superior athlete” gag have an “final solution” undercurrent to it? Are they trying to ethnically cleanse the WWE undercard? I am not okay with any of this.
Best/Worst: Man, Even This Daniel Bryan/Alberto Del Rio Match Isn’t Working For Me
I’m usually okay thinking and typing anything I want — I just made a final solution reference in a wrestling column for God’s sake — but I’ll admit it, I’m apprehensive whenever I don’t enjoy something or someone I normally enjoy. That’s not a sentiment people on the Internet enjoy. To many people, the slightest break in unmitigated praise means you’ve turned on that person or thing completely, abandoning them for contrarianism or to be cool. You’re a “hipster,” or whatever. It’s not a thing you can just write about and expect people to be okay with, even if you’ve built a largely reasonable, able-to-read audience.
So with that said, I did not love this match between two of my favorite in-ring performers, Bryan and Del Rio. Something was just off. Maybe it was me. The WWE Fan Nation video makes it look better than it does in my brain, but let me put it this way … how many times have you seen Daniel Bryan do that backflip off the turnbuckles and fall on his ass? Not a lot.
It sucks, too, because Del Rio vs. Bryan is one of those feuds I desperately want to happen. A snobby, rich, entitled dude going after the people’s champion seems like a ready-to-go beef, doesn’t it? Bryan shows up riding a fixie, Del Rio drives in in a Rolls. Instead, Bryan’s facing Del Rio as the followup to a f*cking Stephanie McMahon jump scare in the middle of a show-long horror angle about Kane stalking and trying to abduct/kill Bryan’s helpless, screaming wife. It’s the weirdest, worst thing, and as I typed that I sorta realized the power context has on a wrestling match’s ability to work. They’re doing La Mistica into the Yes Lock, sure, but it’s prefaced with backseat POV angles and followed by the WWE Champion running in terror when his opponent’s pyro hits. What is that?
Let’s give Bryan and Del Rio a lengthy match on Main Event or something, okay?
Worst: The Lonely Grave Of Brie Bella
It’s like they’re actively trying to make something worse than Little Johnny happen.
So … if you didn’t watch the show, here’s what you need to know. Daniel Bryan had a match with Kane at Extreme Rules. He headbutted him off a forklift and propelled him backwards through a flaming table for the win, but then Kane wasn’t totally dead so FEAR GRIPPED EVERYBODY, I GUESS. You know, even though Bryan, a guy who has beaten a variety of Kane personas several times, had just beaten him on the most violent available terms. He’s worried that Kane’s going to kidnap His Wife (capitalized) even though she’s a pro wrestler who should have friends who aren’t her husband and should probably be able to protect herself.
They get to Raw and Stephanie puts them in a dressing room with a scary Kane lamp. They try to leave the show (which, in theory, they shouldn’t have even shown up to in the first place if they were fearing abductions and torture murders) but are stopped by Stephanie, who tells Bryan he’s got to compete in a wrestling match RIGHT NOW or he’ll be stripped of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Moments like this are the worst, because if Stephanie has that power and doesn’t want Bryan to be champion, she should just be able to strip him. They’ve established that there are no longer checks and balances.
Anyway, Bryan wrestles Del Rio and Kane’s pyro goes off, so he grabs His Wife and splits backstage. Which, uh, doesn’t make sense. If you’re worried about a guy killing your girlfriend or whatever, isn’t remaining out in the middle of a well-lit, televised wrestling ring surrounded by a production team and 10,000+ witnesses your best call? Sure, Kane came up out of the ring last week and all, but you fought him off with a wrench, and you could probably lift up the apron skirt and f*cking look for him.
They go backstage and THE CAR WON’T START because I guess we are currently in See No Evil 2. Bryan checks the motor and IMMEDIATELY FIXES IT by instantly noticing an unplugged wire and plugging it back in, but that’s given Kane time to materialize in the back seat, where I guess he was seated earlier in the night with a WWE television camera. Kane gets handsy with Brie and she delivers the most insincere, unbelievable screaming you’ve ever heard. Holy shit, Brie Bella trying to express “fear” is the saddest thing in the world. DanYULLL. DanYULLLL. WHEEEEE. WHEEEE. She sounded like a goddamn dolphin, and she fights off A LITERAL DEMON with GIRLISH SLAPS. Reminder: a month ago she was missile dropkicking people.
Kane and Bryan briefly exchange wrestling punches outside of the car, and when Bryan tries to escape, Kane climbs up and sticks his arm through the sunroof, which I guess they leave wide open when parked. After a little too long trying to start the car, Bryan drives forward like 10 feet and Kane gently hops off onto his feet. When we pan back over, he is lying STIFF AS A BOARD, perpendicular to the car. Then Bryan is SUPER SURPRISED that he sits up and is totally fine, because I guess falling the four-ish feet from the trunk of a car to the parking lot floor is INSTANT DEATH for most folks. Oh, and Brie is watching (and screaming) from the sunroof, like she’s on her way to a scary prom. Bryan drives away in terror with his WHEEEing Wife, and will probably show up next week to be scared of the same shoot murderer.
1. Couldn’t Bryan have just backed up the car and run over Kane, or hung a ewie in the parking lot and straight-up Rikishi’d him?
2. Next week’s show should feature Kane showing up backstage to menace Brie Bella and Bryan just drawing a pistol and shooting him in the chest.
Best: “I’m Afraid I’ve Got Some Bad News! The Previous Hour And A Half!”
Here’s a great little match that I can’t talk up because it’s sandwiched between the two worst things that’ve happened on Raw all year. What I WILL say is that these kinds of Intercontinental Championship defenses are crucial to the success of both the belt and its wearer, the eye rake before the Dog Boner is exactly the kind of thing they should be doing to give Bad News Barrett WINS in those matches, and that both men remembering their previous encounter and changing their gameplans according to what has happened previously is revolutionary step in how WWE midcard matches are put together. This should be a “how to” example for others at the same level to watch, understand and attempt to improve upon.
Now, let’s get to the part of Raw where it turns into a racist Ebaum’s World.
Worst: Happy Mother’s Day, Mammy, Here’s An Antonine Dodson Remix
Mr. T’s WWE Hall of Fame induction speech was super stupid, but here’s the thing: he meant it. It was from the bottom of his heart. From the bottom of his awkward, tender heart. The sincerity of it is what made it so engaging and hilarious. You thought he was going to say a short thing about his mom and then NOPE, it’s a 20-minute sermon that gets more and more absurd until you’re smiling and laughing almost in SPITE of the jokes you wanna make.
WWE does not understand
So they took it, gave it an “autotuned” style remix full of photoshop jokes, peppered it with footage of Brodus Clay’s already super racist Mammy Dance from WrestleMania 28 that more or less curb stomped his career momentum, and insulted T AND his mama in the process. Wretched, offensive, insulting … I can’t even explain it. It’s just such a f*ck you to T’s sincerity that everyone involved in its creation should be ashamed, and probably punched.
This is the worst Raw.
Best: Zeb Colter Remembers He’s Supposed To Be Xenophobic, Paranoid And Hateful
How sad it is that the best performer in the world and the concept of loving your mother are horrible parts of the show, and a racist dude wanting to deport a bunch of people he’s suspicious of is a best? It’s like I’m watching AMC.
I want Zeb’s deportation list to be a continuing story, with him going down the list one-by-one, Kill Bill-style until a UK tour or whatever when everyone gets their comeuppance and dumps him into a British prison. Yes, that’s how I want Zeb Colter’s story to end. Big ups to Zeb for stretching his agenda so far he’s condemning people for not tanning properly.
Worst: First The Entrance Theme, Now The Rabbit?
Adam Rose is what he is. A few truths, just to get them out now that he’s a part of the show:
1. That is not his entrance theme. He used a much better theme the first time he showed up, but WWE didn’t want to buy the rights to it and replaced it with a soundalike. I am literally the only person in the universe who cares, and I should get over it, but I’m still not over it.
2. I would prefer if he was still a South African game hunter who did a lot of crouching and was always one wrong thought away from killing everyone with a machete.
3. That rabbit Rosebud is one of my favorite parts of NXT, and now I don’t know if he’s the Full Sail rabbit or a “local talent” crammed into the suit. It’s like trying to meet a sports mascot and getting the backup guy. You can tell, because he just kinda stands there waving instead of being a living thing who wants to get people hype about the baseball.
Best: Shield vs. Wyatts, I Guess
The main event was a house show match between the Wyatt Family and The Shield. It was good at times and great at others, but it also reeked of one of those matches where they’re just filling time before the angle starts. It didn’t have the intensity or the passion of the pay-per-view match or even some of the others they’ve had, and if it had been performed by lesser wrestlers it wouldn’t have been a thing. Good for us that Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns are on a completely different level right now and could just kinda fart in the direction of a television camera and their buttdust would form a three-stars-or-above wrestling match.
Best: Dave Still Can’t Do The Shield Taunt
PUT YOUR FIST BETWEEN THEIRS, DAVE. NO, PUT YOUR … ah well, at least he wore the matching gear this time.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
I like that HHH got a trainer to tape his fists for that run in.
“Tape ‘em up Steve.”
“Gunna jump the Shield later.”
“Dick move, boss.”
“What was that?”
“I said, uh, sick move boss.”
“Heh, heh, yeah it is. I like you Steve.”
The real disappointment tonight is that we didn’t get Happy Cinco de MY CLIENT BROCK LESNAR CONQUERED THE STREAK. Come on, Paul, it was RIGHT THERE.
Batista looking more and more like Homer’s Hobo opponents during his boxing career
“Niner-niner, this is WWE Storylines requesting permission to land. Over”
“Negative, WWE Storylines. Maintain holding pattern and await further instructions in July. Over”
HR Director: “Kane, did you get Bryan and Brie to sign the Change of Health Insurance Forms to show that they are now married?”
Kane: “Not yet, sir. I keep trying every week, but they always run away from me.”
HR Director: “Well keep trying! We’ve got to this done before the end of month.”
Kane is passionate about libertarianism because he can’t believe that he’s 47 and still being claimed as a dependent by the Devil.
Nikki Bella: Hey guys, guys!! NO DON”T CHASE ME!! AAHHHHH!!! AAHHHHHH LEAVE ME ALONE!!! HELPP!!! AAHHH
Wyatt Family:: continue eating dinner::
“WHERE TO, STEPH…uh…oops, wrong car.”
Son of Mecha Mummy
Next week on Raw Lana debuts her Vladimir Putin fanvid set to an Evanescence song.
Rusev loses, we pussy riot.
Thanks everybody. See you next week. Hug your mother. Or buy a T-Pain microphone and rap in her face, who cares.