Tonight’s Raw opens up with a stroll down memory lane, since it’s the 20th Anniversary of Raw being on TV.
Seeing a montage of all the opening credits sequences over the years was a fun moment of nostalgia, particularly the pre-attitude era theme which I haven’t heard since I was watching Bret Hart wrestle Shawn Michaels with my Grandpa. It was a great kick off to a show that would soon rapidly descend into a mostly boring, often receptive slump of stuff we’ve already seen. Especially since we’ve already seen the majority of the content revisited at Raw 1000, which until now served as the de-facto anniversary show.
Seeing Vince McMahon follow that segment up by opening was the best they could do to kill my good will however. No matter what you think of Vince McMahon in real life or not, it’s still pretty aggravating to watch a rich guy talk to us about how great he is, and how much of a genius he is, and get cheered for doing so. Even though it’s pretty solidly true, it doesn’t change the fact that opening with him fellating himself verbally is tiring. It’s the same sort of promo we’ve seen him make before, with the “It’s all because of You’s”, and whatnot, that CM Punk got done saying were so meaningless and empty last week. Perhaps all of it is purposeful, and is meant to further establish the disconnect between Punk as an outsider, and The Rock and Vince McMahon’s beliefs representing the ideological opposite of Punk’s promo last week, and is thusly a worked speech meant to illustrate that concordantly to further that thematic storyline that’s been presented as the background for the build up to Punk and Rock’s match at Royal Rumble.
Either that or Vince is just an egomaniac. You decide.
This is one of those great cases of someone I really like winning against all odds against someone I really don’t like. That’s not to say that Wade Barrett wasn’t directly holding his own in the match against Randy Orton, but you’ve gotta understand where I come from while watching every match with Orton/Sheamus/Cena or any of the other invincible white guys. Basically every matched is viewed as an automatic given to any of the IWG’s (that’s what I’ll call them from now on), unless there’s some sort of X-Factor in the match to indicate otherwise. In this case Wade Barrett is the IC champion, and thusly is being pushed as a top mid-carder. It serves poorly to have the IC champion lose non-title matches as it weakens the meaning of the title, so you can’t have Orton beat Barrett, but at the same time, Orton is lowering himself to the mid-card scene to fight Barrett in a match. In order to preserve Orton’s Top-Card status and keep the title meaningful, Orton had to lose, but since he’s an IWG, I still didn’t expect him to. Which is why I was surprised and delighted to see Wade beat him cleanly. It was something I didn’t expect from Randy Orton, and boded well for both of their character’s development in the future.
It’s called getting someone over, Cena. Let some folks beat you cleanly occasionally, and you’ll be surprised what good it can do for the show.
Even though I don’t like the story development of Kane and Daniel Bryan regressing back into anger management lessons again, holy crap was this segment great. This is how comedy segments should be managed in WWE. Have some character based comedy using your wrestlers who have natural comedic timing, and highlight the inherent absurdity of your own character’s actions. Daniel Bryan’s joke about Kane’s bizarre pyrokinesis? Genuinely funny. On top of that, how talented is Damien Sandow? That guy needs to be in more backstage comedy bits like these, because the guy clearly has the chops for comedy. People often ask me what I like when I say I like comedy in my wrestling, and this is a good example of a funny, well done, non-offensive and clever comedic skit. What I don’t like is Santino pulling socks out of his ass, or Hornswoggle biting peoples butts, or people being racist for no reason. More absurdity, and less “edginess” or whatever it’s called when John Cena or The Rock decide to cut homophobic and misogynistic promos to insult whoever they’re feuding with.
The other great thing is that the last comedy skit had a reason and built into this match organically, in a way that makes sense. If there are at LEAST two ways to book your matches, the first is to just announce your card, or have matches happen because you own a wrestling company and you’ve just picked people to wrestle each other. The other way would be to have all of your feuds and skits tie into the booking, flow from one into the other, and have the whole show be cohesive and wrap up at the end by tying it back into the first promo/skit of the evening where the main event was announced. The WWE doesn’t do either of course, they just have matches happen randomly. Also occasionally because someone demanded one, which creates the idea that there is no actual booker and everything is chaos each night as they try to fill the card with 3 hours of content. Either that or a handful of pre-planned matches are pushed off the schedule every time John Cena comes out and demands a match RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW, TONIGHT!
Right? Oh what? Oh Right. Kayfabe bro. Got it. Nevermind.
Firstly, let me say I have nothing but immense respect for Mick Foley and everything he’s done for the sport of wrestling. The dude totally deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame, and I’m glad he got it. I’m getting used to him being used as a generic stand in as a Revered-Elder-To-Be-Disrespected-By-The-Up-And-Coming-Arrogant-Youth wrestlers. He’s more of a symbol than a man in that way now. Accordingly attacking him is tantamount to kicking a puppy, or tying a woman to railroad tracks in terms of PURE EVIL in the WWE, so of course The Shield show up to give him crap. I like The Shield, I like what they’re doing, but I think they’re a bit above this. I want them to attack and destroy the IWG’s, not come out and bother poor old Mick Foley who should be sitting at home with his kids. It doesn’t make me mad at their characters, it makes me mad at who booked this in real life, thus demonstrating the eternal internal conflict I have whenever watching wrestling. What may make me like a character in real life, may make me dislike the actual wrestler himself, and vice versa. It’s hard being me while watching wrestling because I can’t NOT think about the multiple levels every single aspect the show works on, and analyze them all critically while thinking about what that means for the story lines that are presented on a face value, metaphorically, intrinsically, thematically, and ultimately realistically. It’s a maddening meta-textual expression conducted through showmanship, theater and violence realized through so many contextual realities it makes my head spin.
Jesus god. I need a drink.
First things first. I really hope Eve isn’t actually quitting the WWE. Apparently after losing this match and her title, she “quit” and left the company in a WWE Active video posted online. It’s this sort of thing that further blurs the lines between reality and fiction in the WWE, and makes me sad because this match was exactly the kind of match we need more of in the WWE. Beautiful, strong women actually wrestling each other, showing off their skills in a way that tells a story in the ring. Eve is the resentful champion who despises her fans, and only really values her title but fakes a smile and puts on a front of being content with her fandom. Kaitlyn is an underdog who has been denied an actual match for the championship for months now, and finally gets a one up via the no-DQ/No-Count Out clause being lifted for the title to change hands. Eve quitting makes sense for her character, but for two women who I both like watching wrestle, I wish we had gotten more matches out of them. Hopefully it’s a work, and Eve returns hell bent on getting her title back, and we get an actual, proper women’s feud that has some weight and meaning to it.
This match is a continuing escalation of the fallout from CM Punk’s promo last week. He basically made a real point saying how stupid it is that Brodus Clay has to dance and whatnot to get over with the dumb masses, (while simultaneously telling us he didn’t care about any of it and was manipulating us because it’s easy), and now is fighting him because that made Brodus Clay mad. Or it made Funkasaurus mad. I’m not sure which is the character or which is the man anymore because, wrestling. Regardless it was good to see Punk wrestling again, and beating people cleanly. Even though Funkasaurus kind of sucks, it’s just good to see Punk back on the horse.
Hey look! It’s The Rock! And Mick Foley! And they’re hugging! LOVE HIM. LOVE HIM PEOPLE. DON’T THINK ABOUT HOW WASHED UP HE IS, OR HOW LAME HIS OLD SCHTICK IS THAT HE’S STILL DOING. HE’S RESPECTING MICK FOLEY! HE’S THE GOOD GUY1 CHEER FOR HIM! BUY HIS T-SHIRTS! BUY TICKETS TO GI JOE 2! BUY BOOTS 2 ASSES SHIRTS! DO IT! OBEY. OBEY. OBEY. OBEY. OBEY. OBEY. OBEY.
Hey look! Sheamus is still invincible! Watch him beat up three guys way smaller than him with next to no chance to win! Don’t cheer their ability to overcome impossible odds and defeat him! Here, watch this footage of Godzilla crushing Bambi! Don’t forget to buy your Sheamus Brogue Kick shirts and cheer for Godzilla’s match tomorrow night where he faces a family of voles! Will the voles win? Probably not, but pretend like it’s a contest anyway! Root for the people who you’re supposed to root for! Forget all cohesive, meaningful introspection or thought! Accept what you’re given! DO IT! DO IT NOW! OBEY.
Sorry about that, those last two parts of the show I really didn’t like and well that just kind of happened. What I did like was this segment of Miz TV, but not because it was particularly good in and of itself. In fact it was quite awful, but it was good because of what it was. Let me explain by stating that I watched this with a friend of mine, who has no context for wrestling or the WWE whatsoever. None. He had some vague idea of who The Rock was, and that CM Punk is someone who does things now. Other than this, he had NO CLUE or rhyme or reason as to any of the context for any of the things that happened in this segment. He’s a very smart, very knowledgable lit-crit type who is quick to understand things thematically, and can usually dissect and process most major films/books/tv show’s messages and intent ridiculously quickly, and has made a modicum of a living doing so.
So imagine my joy and pure thrill at trying to explain to him why an impossibly old man with hot dog skin was sitting in a wrestling ring on leather furniture, talking to an Ex-MTV reject while they both strutted a rooster walk and alternated turns going WOO really loudly at each other, before attacking a man who hates America yet dresses in American colors ironically while waving an American flag and holding the United States Championship. That he hates. His look of utter confusion and lack of any context for the admittedly entirely absurd goings-on was priceless, and was a good kick to the system to remind me just how WEIRD wrestling and the WWE is, and how much we accept based on past contextualization. Ric Flair saying “WOO” is goddamned weird if you don’t know why he’s doing it, but that doesn’t make it any less absurdly hilarious.
This match had some great wrestling in it, and that’s mostly due to the fact that beyond their facial hair related gimmicks, Cody Rhodes and Daniel Bryan are goddamned great wrestlers. They know how to pull off a match, and they work well with each other. It was great to see Daniel Bryan winning on his own again, and gives me hope that whenever his Tag Team run with Kane ends, he’ll still be able to hold onto his top card spot in singles competition. I’d like to see him return to the submission/grappling master he was again, and really get to show off his chops while tearing people apart with hold after hold. I’d also like a million dollars while I’m wishing for things here anyway.
This kind of s*** is infuriating to me. At least Randy Orton has the sense to let Barrett lose to him so he can get over as a champion. If Cena always wins, even with 3 people working against him every damn week, how are we supposed to ever suspend our disbelief to think he’s accomplishing anything? It’s like going to a Casino and rooting for the House to win. How can people root for Cena’s character when he’s just the absolute worst when it comes to this? It’s maddening! How is it at all fair if he just kicks out of every single thing you do to him, no matter what? There’s no drama there. It makes me see AJ raging out at the end their and empathize with her even more, because that IS pretty goddamned frustrating. It’s even more frustrating because I fully expect Cena to win the Royal Rumble, and waste a perfectly valid spot for some other deserving talent to get a title shot. If the rule is Cena gets as many title shots as he wants, when he wants, why have him do things like win Money In The Bank, or poise him to win the RR? It’s either pandering, or politics, and either way I hate it.
Apparently WWEYoutube deleted Part 1 of this video and I don’t care, because I didn’t watch it anyway. I remember last year when The Rock came out to sing songs that were anti-Cena and it was pretty awful back then. Now in a post-Pipebomb WWE they’re utterly insufferable, and had me shutting off Raw early. I didn’t care what Rock had to say, or how he’d insult CM Punk or Paul Heyman by saying they’re women, (because being a woman is bad to The Rock) or any of those things. I turned it off because that’s what I do when I see something on my tv I don’t like.
Alternatively, I sometimes bitch about it on the internet. Like right here. Right now.