Tonight’s Raw opens with a recap of the whole AJ/Daniel Bryan/CM Punk/Kane horrible imaginary 4-way storyline. It then cuts to a backstage scene, with AJ speaking out loud to herself, rehearsing conversations with the three of them, as if they were all there.
Oddly they tried to make it some kind of reveal that she was speaking to a mirror, even though it was obvious. She then states to us/herself that they must “go their own separate ways”. She’s also entirely unaware that her practice speech is being recorded and shown to the WWE Universe live, but I guess it’s too much to ask for her to break the fourth wall, or for the cameraman to act like he was secretly recording it. I mean, if your self pep-talk is broadcast live on a show, wouldn’t you assume the people it’s meant to be heard by, might be watching it? Especially if they’re on that same show? Somewhere, CM Punk is drinking a Pepsi shaking his head.
Then Vickie Guerrero comes out onstage, and announces herself as tonight’s Interim General Manager. She also reveals that the 1000th episode of Raw is when they’re going to pick the new GM positions for both Raw and Smackdown. So the next 4 weeks will be filled with differing Interim Managers, until the 1000th show, where they’ll all probably fight for the position via their respective supporters. Vickie will have Dolph, Mick Foley will have Santino, Shawn Michaels (calling him as a future ‘interim’) will have himself, and Teddy will pick, I don’t know, Zack Ryder. Then he’ll make it a tag team match, and everyone will weep openly for John Laurinaitis’ return. Vickie then announces the first match, a 3-Way Elimination match, which is actually a legitimate breath of fresh air.
This is the second week in a row we’ve had the main WWE talent (Cena aside) at the top of the show. It makes me wonder if it’s a “Have your dessert first” sort of thing, or a “Let’s get these guys done with for the night” sort of thing going on. Either way, starting Raw off 10 minutes in with actual wrestling is something I’m not going to complain about. I just wish it would happen more often. As for the actual match, man have I been enjoying this whole 4-way AJ feud thing. Punk and Bryan do a great job of elevating Kane, who’s actually been at his best in these matches, certainly better than he has been in a long time. The added bonus of Punk and Bryan kicking Kane back and forth, with the audience alternating “Yes!”, or “No!” chants, is what wrestling is made of. A straight up feud between Bryan and Punk would have been awesome on its own, but getting to seem them play off of both Kane and AJ this whole time has been very entertaining, and while I know the story will ultimately veer back onto the Bryan-Punk solo feud, I’m glad it’s here, and we’re given a female wrestler with some actual complexity and depth, even if it is “Crazy chick”.
Of course, AJ shows up, which kinda/sorta distracts Kane (guess he’s a hit it and quit it guy), and Punk puts Kane to sleep, eliminating him. The whole process of lifting Kane onto his shoulders weakens him though, and Bryan swoops in with a kick to the head, and wins the match. This all builds towards another match for the championship for Bryan, who at this point seems destined to become the WWE Champ.
Mentioning destiny, we then cut to Alberto Del Rio in a dressing room with Vickie Guerrero. He starts to butter her up for the #1 contender spot for the World Heavyweight Championship. He is interrupted by Dolph Ziggler, who tells Del Rio to get in line for the title shot. Vickie then decides that to be impartial, she’ll make a Contract On A Pole match to see who gets the #1 Contender status, and will face Sheamus on Smackdown for the title. Which was a bummer to hear, because that basically lets us know that the title won’t switch hands, since it’s on Smackdown, and we’re gonna be stuck with Sheamus as the champ for a bit longer. Soon, Ziggler and Del Rio leave in a huff after that announcement, leaving Vickie and Ricardo Rodriguez in the room alone together, where I presume she begins to seduce him off camera. Or maybe they just have a nice conversation. Whatever.
Back from the break, and we’ve got a match between the Funkasaurus and Big Show. Good, because I want to see these guys actually wrestle people who will give them any sense of a challenge. Which isn’t to say that I don’t like a good squash match, but WWE has been running that into the ground lately, with Funkasaurus, Ryback and Tensai all doing the same sort of thing at the same time, as I’ve probably previously written before. The difference is now Tensai has returned to his home planet of Japan, and Ryback is slowly getting over, despite becoming very repetitive with his matches. We’re left with Funkasaurus, who has to be given his own comic book like secret weakness, which in his case is “hurt knee”, because until now he was an UNSTOPPABLE FORCE that happened to love funky dancing, and now falls to the ground and moans in agonizing pain if you lightly slap him on the knee. I thought they set up his knee weakness as a foil for David Otunga to exploit in their PPV match, to give it some actual suspense, and keep us all from assuming Funkasaurus would win, but it seems to continue and affect this match with him and Show. Either Funkasaurus has a long undiagnosed case of rickets, or David Otunga has bionic Knee-Destroying Shoulders. The match ends with Funkasaurus, (yes, I know his name is Brodus Clay but he’s Funkasaurus to me dammit!), trying to lift Big Show for a body slam, and presumably his knee gives out, or Big Show is just too heavy for him, and Show falls onto him, and pins him.
Hey guys! You know John Cena? He does charity work! Love him! Why don’t you love him? What do you mean he’s boring? HE HELPS SICK KIDS GUYS, LOVE HIM. LOVE HIM ALREADY.
Bob Barker Guest hosted Raw once. It’s true. He even beat up Chavo Guerrero, because that’s just how badly Chavo sucks. Bob Barker mentions he’ll face Chavo in a rematch on the 2000th episode, which you’re supposed to infer means he never will, since he probably will be long dead by then, but I’d like to think Bob Barker has unlocked the secret to immortality, and it involves accurately guessing retail prices of random items.
Holy crap, we then cut to AJ and Kane backstage having a conversation about their feelings! Now that’s a weird sentence. Anyhow, Kane is there, and he pretty much just tells AJ that hey, he’s Kane. The fire rapist, horrible demon monster man. But even HE finds AJ a bit too wacky for him, and calls off the whole thing with her, and leaves. She starts crying/laughing, and what the hell does it say about me that I want to be there, and comfort her personally? I haven’t been this internally conflicted by a WWE segment in a while. I’m guessing out there, somewhere in tumblr-land, there are KayJay shippers out there, hoping things will eventually be set right between them, and they’ll live together in weird, fire summoning, mask wearing harmony.
In a just and fair world, Jack Swagger, the man whose gimmick is being the All American American, would still be the United States Champion, and would have never lost it to Santino. But here we are, with Santino somehow repeatedly defending it despite all logic and reason pointing to him having to lose it, now defending it once again, against the previous title holder. I don’t understand the pairing of these two as combatants, because aside from the international angle, there’s really no reason Jack Swagger shouldn’t just pick up Santino and Swagger Bomb him to death like 3 times in a row, and pin him with one foot on his chest, flexing the way Jericho used to do.
Best. Pin. Ever.
But of course, Santino gets The Cobra on Swagger, because being poked in the chest with a sock is a death sentence, and wins.
After another commercial break, John Cena returns. From what he returns, I’m not sure. He was here last week, so maybe he went and travelled to some other planet, fought its tyrannical ruler, took over as king of the oppressed worker force, married their warrior princess and united the opposing kingdoms of that planet under his rule, to become John Cena Of Mars. Or not.
Either way, he’s back. He then makes a terrible Star Wars/WWE analogy, which even I found nerdy and lame. He takes a really long amount of time, to very stupidly say “Yay, John Laurinaitis is gone!”, and make a terrible Yoda impression that sounds more like Kermit. Then, thank god, Jericho interrupts him. Jericho enters the stage, and Michael Cole goes on to say how Jericho was off touring with his band Fozzy, and makes no mention of his previous “suspension”, because what is continuity anyway amiright? Then Jericho walks into the ring, and does the most glorious thing, by telling Cena to shut the hell up, make his stupid announcement already, and stop wasting all of our time with his dumb jokes and impressions. Cena then gets to the point, and says his historic announcement is that to stop Big Show, for the first time ever, he’s putting himself in the Money in The Bank ladder match. Which sucks for 2 huge reasons:
1.) That match is for people who would otherwise have no way to get a title shot, and Cena is taking away some deserving superstars chance by doing this.
2.) According to The Law, this means Cena will win that match, leaving us with a boring obvious match for that PPV that could instead be utilized by under appreciated superstars to give themselves a push. Daniel Goddamn Bryan did this last year remember? But no, we’re gonna get more Cena, because in lieu of People Power, we’re now supposed to accept Cena Power.
Jericho then points out how annoying and overconfident Cena is, and enters himself in the Money In The Bank match as well. Vickie then enters, and reminds us that there are two Money In The Bank matches, one for the WWE title, and the other for the WHC title. She then says the “Board of Directors” have stipulated the WWE MITB match will consist of only former WWE champions, and will have Kane, Jericho, Cena, and Big Show as contenders. Which just makes no goddamn sense, and I guess even the Board of Directors don’t understand what Money In The Bank is for, but OH WELL.
As they begin to announce a returning former WWE Legend, Heath Slater interrupts and enters the ring. He starts saying words that I can’t hear because he’s Heath Slater, and is then interrupted by Sycho Sid, who now looks a lot like Michael Rooker in a jheri curl wig. Sycho Sid then power bombs Slater and pins him, because what else was gonna happen? I kinda like these matches. I like Heath Slater coming out, being obnoxious, and getting pounded by WWE legends. It’s working for Slater, in a weird sort of way. Even though he’s losing, he’s still getting over with me, and all the WWE legends are acting like reverse Jobbers, showing up once to win, and then leaving forever. Slater isn’t a talented spot taker like Dolph Ziggler, and his move repertoire isn’t exciting or that interesting, but dammit, it’s fun to watch him get annihilated. +1 Slater. You ARE the one man baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanddd.
So it doesn’t really matter who wins this match. We all know they’re not gonna have their title match on Smackdown count, so the whole thing is an exercise in futility for both wrestlers involved, as far as title shots go. However, Ziggler and Del Rio are both talented wrestlers, and know how to put on a good match. If there’s anything to be said about this match’s booking, and tonight’s booking in general, it’s that Vickie Guerrero is actually a really good GM, despite her shrill ear piercing voice. Ziggler and Del Rio spend a fair amount of time really struggling with trying to at first reach the incredibly-easy-to-reach Contract On A Pole, and Ziggler is the one to actually get his hands on it, and rip it off the pole. Which I was led to believe means you win the contract, but the bell doesn’t ring and Michael Cole goes on to say how you have to “control” the contract to win the match. I have no idea what the hell this means, and i’m guessing it might have been a quick ad-lib to cover up the possibility that Ziggler botched the grab and accidentally grabbed the contract too early. Either way, the match is interrupted, (how rude is the WWE Roster, nobody lets anybody finish anything), by Sheamus, who comes in and announces that the title shot on Smackdown will be a triple threat between Del Rio and Ziggler. So… What? The match ends? The contract means nothing? An already futile match ended even more pointlessly? Awful.
After the match, we cut to CM Punk in the locker room. AJ comes and apologizes for how things went in the match she interfered in earlier. Punk tries to prep her for a breakup talk, but she takes it to mean he wants to commit more to their relationship, and then skips off to compete in her battle royale match. Did I mention she was in a bathrobe in this segment? Because she was. I guess being straight edge really does give you an immense amount of self-control, because I’d be ripping that damn bathrobe off her, out of curiosity alone. If you haven’t noticed by now, I kinda have a huge crush on AJ. I guess I’m really into weird, awkward, damaged women. I wish Raw would come to where I live, because I’d buy front row seats and stand there with a sign that says I HEART WEIRD, AWKWARD DAMAGED WOMEN! for the whole 2-3 hours. I’d also bring a #Rudo sign in case Del Rio wrestled Ziggler again, because that sign would be high concept dammit.
I know this is a blatant attempt at WWE to get some good cheesecake fodder on tv, but goddamn what the Divas lack in wrestling ability do they make up in their looks. Back in the Attitude Era, the Women’s Division wasn’t called “Divas”, and they had muscular, strong women who could actually wrestle, but never really did. They always had blatant cheesecakey gimmick matches. Mud wrestling. Bikini Matches. Rip My Clothes Off Matches. Have Fake Lesbian Sex Matches. You get the idea, it was pretty gratuitous. The problem was, a lot of these women, weren’t that attractive. Especially Luna. Remember Luna?
GAH! FORGET LUNA! FORGET LUNNNAAAAA!!!
Now they have all these hot “Divas”, who would be PERFECT for gimmicky bikini/strip/sex matches, but continually wrestle ineptly, for no longer than 2 minutes at a time. A part of me wants to say the WWE’s women’s wrestling has gone down in quality, and in a manner of speaking it has, but really it’s always been a joke, and now it’s just a different one, that’s slightly more sexy. Vickie herself actually enters the match, looking surprisingly decent ( I SAID DECENT) in her one piece swimsuit, and the match begins. Of course, all of these women don’t actually wrestle, and have no idea how a Battle Royale is supposed to work, and keep “eliminating” themselves by going under the top ropes, because they don’t know how to take a bump or a dive that high. It was funny watching Michael Cole scramble to make sense of their idiocy, and again ad-lib a fake rule about going through the ropes for elimination. Eventually we were left with AJ, Vickie and Layla. AJ quickly eliminates Layla, and we’re left with Vickie and AJ, and after an elimination recovery by AJ, Vickie gets mad at AJ, and starts boob-bumping her into the ropes. AJ then tackles Vickie to the ground. Vickie eliminates herself, and AJ starts rejoicing, shouting YES! over and over. The crowd, and I along with them, go wild.
It’s about time the Most Electrifying Jacket In Sports Entertainment returns, and we get a match between John Cena and Jericho. Why? Because they talked earlier stupid! You know the rules. Any argument = Settled in a match. No exception. What can I say about John Cena that I already haven’t? The dude is annoying, hypocritical, has a repetitive library of moves, and constantly wins and is boring to watch. That being said, occasionally someone else can rise up and pull a good performance out of him. 2011’s Money In The Bank was a good example, with CM Punk and Cena having a pretty brilliant 40+ minute match, which is like 3 hours in WWE time. As for Jericho, the man is incredibly talented, and still continues to impress me with his in ring agility and prowess, along with his still exceptional mic skills. Nobody gets genuine heel heat like Jericho, he is a master at getting the average mark to hate him. His long time motto is that he is the ‘best at everything he does’, and I’m hard pressed to disagree.
The theme of tonight’s Raw, definitely seems to be: ‘Interruption’, because Big Show’s music starts, which distracts John Cena, and Jericho slaps on the Walls of Jericho on Cena. Instead of seeing Cena tap out and giving Jericho a clean win however, Big Show walks in, and does a leg drop on the back of Cena’s head, making the match end in a DQ. Jericho smartly leaves the ring, and Show choke slams Cena, and puts him into a camel clutch. The show ends with John Cena passing out, and Big Show staring at the referee. I’m guessing after the cameras cut away, he transforms into the bear from his shirt, and mauls the referee. Or he continues staring, and all attempts to get him to stop staring fail, and due to his IRONCLAD contract that lets him do anything he wants, everyone has to keep watching Big Show staring blankly for hours on end, until Big Show decides to stop and get something to eat.
One thing I really liked about this years Wrestlemania (28), was that every match, more or less, ended cleanly. Everybody won because they were just better, and out wrestled their competition. It was refreshing to see that, because the WWE hadn’t been doing that for a long time, and for a while, it seemed to be continuing that way. Tonight was a harsh reminder that was a fad, and the magical “I interrupt your match, making you suddenly susceptible to a roll-up or instant finisher KO” thing is back again with a vengeance. It’s a shame, and makes things really predictable the moment it happens, which I’m guessing is the opposite of its actual intention. Interruptions only work when they’re done sparingly, and to good effect because they ARE a surprise, and effect the match in a unique way. When literally every other goddamn match in your show is interrupted, this effect is drastically weakened. It bums me out, because there are always little seeds of WWE being REALLY GOOD, and then they go back to ruining it with the same old crap.
Man, here’s some .GIFs of AJ, because I’m sad now.