Raw starts right off the bat with a recap of the Punk/AJ/Bryan storyline, because that is so clearly the best storyline they have going right now between the main 3 right now. Triple H vs Brock Lesnar is a big pile of who gives a shit, and Cena VS Big Show has been milquetoast at best. AJ enters the ring, skipping as usual, and starts to talk about her behavior, and how it will affect the match she’ll be refereeing at Money In The Bank. She introduces CM Punk, and they talk about the events that transpired on Smackdown. To briefly summarize it, she kissed both Daniel Bryan and CM Punk, after Punk told her she needed professional help. She addresses his sentiments, by saying that she is in full control of her faculties, and doesn’t need any kind of professional help. I’m inclined to believe her, because I’ve been thinking that secretly, all along, she’s been playing all the men around her for her own end game, but like any long con, when fake feelings and real feelings get mixed, it can nix the whole operation, and jeopardize the con entirely. AJ knows what she’s doing, but it’s gone wrong, and now she’s trying to find an exit plan. Despite being a little too soap opera-ey, this promo was at least a good example of AJ actually being a pretty good actor. For a wrestler, I mean.
Eventually, after AJ continues her explanation of her feelings, how CM Punk made her feel cared about, and generally just breaks my heart with her plight and need to be loved, she full on admits CM Punk gets her hot. She then kneels down on one knee, and goddamn PROPOSES to CM Punk. He shakes his head, just as flabbergasted as we all are, and Daniel Bryan comes in shouting NO emphatically. He begs her to not make the biggest mistake in her life. He goes on to try to convince her that he has never truly lost his feelings for her, and decries CM Punk as a liar and manipulator. CM Punk rebuffs Bryan, and Bryan counters by daring Punk to say “I do”. Punk hesitates, and Bryan continues his deft/cruel/funny manipulation of AJ’s feelings. Then HE gets on one knee, and proposes to her. Then CM Punk interrupts and calls him on his BS, and they start arguing about who will be whose fiancee and whatnot, until the text noise for the Anonymous General Manager of Raw sounds. Remember him/her/it? I guess they weren’t dead after all. Michael Cole then reveals the official laptop that the Anon-GM uses to communicate. I should have called this, but the days of the Anonymous Raw General Manager seem so long ago, that I’d all but forgotten about it. I guess all the past GM’s really do get to return to duty. Michael Cole communicates that the Anon-GM believes that CM Punk and AJ makes a great couple and then announces an inter-gender Tag Team Match, (god is it Teddy? Ugh.), between AJ and Punk, and Daniel Bryan and Eve. Which is a weird pairing, but whatever. It’d seem that the winner of this match will determine who AJ will end up with/married to, along with who she’ll favor in MITB this Sunday. She then says she’ll be walking out tonight with her “Future Husband”, and CM Punk drops his mic in shock. For a very soap opera-ey promo, it wasn’t too bad, although I can see some people being absolutely bored by the first 20 minutes of their wrestling show being 3 people talking about their romantic feelings for each other, and then proposing marriage. I found it entertaining, simply because it was so absurd, if a bit stupidly melodramatic. Also, throughout this segment several fan’s signs were just KILLING ME. I had to take pictures of them to share, because they’re pure comedy gold.
CM Punk. You know, Second City Saint? Voice of the Voiceless? Best in the Wold?
There are no words for this.
He’s not wrong.
Seriously? This could be a good match, but with how much they’ve been obviously burying Jack Swagger, and how hard they’ve been pushing Sheamus on us, why even have this match? Sheamus gets his two finishers in, in 58 goddamn seconds. Big surprise. Alberto Del Rio then shows up on the Titan-Tron to taunt Sheamus, and drives away in his awesome car like a boss. Then Sheamus brogue kicks Jack Swagger again, who was just trying to stand up, and somehow we’re supposed to cheer him for doing this. I don’t get how Sheamus is a face, when all he does is act like a complete bastard heel all the time. What did Jack Swagger do to piss off Vince McMahon so badly? He’s clearly being punished because Diva’s matches are longer than this.
Then we cut to Zack Ryder and Santino backstage, discussing how Zack Ryder won the privilege to be the GM of Smackdown, and the identity of the Anon-GM. Santino then pulls out a Sherlock Holmes hat, and a magnifying glass, and starts literally searching for the Anon-GM in plastic buckets of cable wiring. Because he’s freaking retarded. Maybe that’s been his character gimmick all along? He’s literally retarded, and some WWE writer forgot to tell everyone else, and he’s just been laying it on extra thick to communicate that to us, because he contractually can’t break kayfabe and just tell us.
Returning from the break, Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler announce that The Rock will elaborate on his intention to reclaim the WWE Championship, at the 1000th show in 2 weeks. They’ve been doing this for a lot of goddamn things, and it seems like this 1000th show will be nothing but guest stars, announcements made by wrestlers about future matches and their feuds, and generally everything but actual wrestling.
Shot time! Tyson Kidd is on Raw! Take a shot! I’m not exactly sure why these 4 guys are fighting in a tag team match, other than to build up to their MITB ladder match, because there’s no organic character build up for them at all. I know not every match has to be based around a feud, but having these guys in a tag team together for no reason other than “It’s for the PPV”, seems really disingenuous to me in its intention to build hype for the PPV match. Just have them make promos insulting each other or something, rather than this uselessly short tag team match. The match ends with Tensai pinning Christian and winning for himself and Dolph, then he throws his typical after match tantrum where he beats on somebody, this time it’s Tyson Kidd. We cut to Michael Cole and Jerry, and they start discussing who should be GM for Raw and Smackdown, and Jerry’s admittedly stupid opinion makes Cole throws a cup of water on Lawler, and immediately he apologizes in fear. Like Lawler could even do anything to him anyway, but whatever. Cole runs away to attend to the Anon-GM’s messages, and then refuses to announce the Anon-GM’s new messages. Lawler stands up, and reads that Cole and Lawler will have a match tonight. Cole is furious and demands that the Anon-GM change the match. The GM then lets the WWE Universe vote online to determine if the match will take place or not. I then barf.
45 minutes into Raw, and all we’re getting are squashes and Tag Team matches again? I swear to god, the Anonymous Raw GM MUST be Teddy Long, because this is exactly his MO. Does anyone watch this and really think Drew McIntyre is going to beat The Funkasaurus? Really? REALLY? Aw hell, take it away Miz.
I miss you Miz.
Guess what? Funkasaurus wins! I don’t even think Drew Mcintyre even got to do anything during this match. Then Funkasaurus starts dancing with a bunch of kids. Even I’m starting to get tired of The Funkasaurus’ shtick now. Please make him do something interesting. Have him fight big people who present a challenge. Stop handicapping him with a “hurt knee” so he can lose and still come off as a powerhouse later. Give him purpose. Please. I’m begging you WWE. For me?
Backstage, Santino has gotten into the dressing room of Jericho, and accuses him of being the Anon-GM. Jericho then accuses him back, and Santino walks away after having some kind of idiot thought in his head. Then Big Show appears, and Jericho tries to reunite Jerishow, but Big Show tells him by no means is this a reunion, and that he wants him to stay out-of-the-way. Man, who hurt you Big Show? Jericho is ALL ABOUT kicking ass and taking names, he’d be the perfect complement to your budding war machine. I hope Show has some kind of endgame in mind, because even if he wants to be a self-sufficient Unstoppable GIANT, he could stand to network with his fellow heels. I dunno, make a stable of heels even? Man, remember stables? What happened to that? God I miss the NWO and DX.
Jericho, Big Show, and Alberto Del Rio would make the best heel stable they could have right now. I even got a name planned, the WMD’s, because they’d be the worlds most dangerous group of heels in the WWE today. Show would even be the leader with that name! They could go around and systematically destroy stupid inferior people like Santino, or just break Sheamus’ arms and legs and take the WHC back from his waste. I know if you read this column with any consistency, you’ll realize I flip-flop a lot on my opinion of Sheamus, but goddamn does he need to figure out what his deal is. I can’t keep kinda liking, then mostly hating him forever.
Stephanie McMahon’s favorite Raw memory is Triple H calling her a lying bitch on live television for faking a pregnancy? The McMahon family is screwed up.
Then John Cena enters, grabs a mic, and starts to give a promo. It’s exactly the same promo he always gives. I’m not going to summarize it, because there are only so many ways to type “John Cena says he’ll never give up, and he’ll win”, and blah blah blah oh my god kill me. Or more accurately, kill Cena. Well don’t kill him, but lordy give him something to say that he already hasn’t! His whole thing this time is just one big commercial for MITB, himself, and his merchandise in effect. Every time he speaks, all I hear is “BUY WWE JOHN CENA SHIRTS. BUY JOHN CENA CUPS. BUY JOHN CENA TOYS.” and it’s so goddamn awful. It’s blatant, and belittles what little credibility the WWE actually has every time he does it.
An hour into Raw, and we get our first actual wrestling match of significant length and importance. These guys, for better or for worse, have actual reasons to dislike each other, and have actual history and meaning for why they’re wrestling each other, even if the main reason is Money In The Bank. The match started off slow, with Cena and Jericho trading blows until each tagged in their partners, and then Kane starts to actually give Show some competition. Show gets a some big stomps in, and Jerishow gets the upper hand early on. After a series of tags, and a commercial break, Big Show faces Cena and locks him into a big bear hug. Cena counters and gets the hot tag to Kane, and gains some momentum against Big Show. They actually start to get some good moves against each other, and make some good spots on each other. Jericho gets tagged in, and we cut to another commercial break.
That’s two commercial breaks during one match. What must happen in between the moments they don’t show on tv? I’d like to think they just stop wrestling and stand around, making snack a little bit, and the live audience just loses their minds in frustration until the show goes back on air. Anyhow, after the break, during which Jericho has been beating on Kane, Kane regains his composure and lands a big sidewalk slam on Jericho. Cena then starts the process for the 5 Moves Of Doom, but his pin on Jericho is interrupted by Big Show, and causes a DQ. Which makes no sense, because I’m pretty sure tag teams matches are based around the partner interrupting pins, ALL THE TIME. Show then pulls out two ladders, and uses them on Jericho and Kane. By “uses” I mean, he baby taps them very lightly on the chest with them, and slams them very gingerly on the chest with them on the ground. Then John Cena baby taps Show with a ladder, and his music starts playing, thus indicating the “end” of the match. Learn how to use a ladder guys. Jesus. That MITB match is gonna be terrible.
Backstage we see CM Punk warming up for his match, and Eve wishes him luck, and takes time to insult AJ and warn Punk of her unreliability. She also tries to get into his head by comparing him to prior champions and reminding him of the length of his title reign. Punk seems stressed, and we cut again to Santino. This time he thinks he’s found the cell phone of the Anon-GM, but it’s actually The Great Khali’s phone. Santino tries to question Khali if he is the Anon-GM, but the both of them are goddamned retarded and watching them communicate was horrifically boring and led to no new information.
I guess they’re still having qualifying matches for MITB, and while this match is a given, it was still fun to watch Sin Cara and Heath Slater actually do things in the ring. After Sin Cara gets his squash win on Slater, Slater then angrily demands any former champion to come out, claiming he’ll win no matter who. Then Bob Backlund shows up. You read that right, Bob Frikkin’ Backlund shows up, and apparently NOBODY in the crowd recognizes who he is, which was sad. He parades around in the ring, to the utter indifference of everyone in the arena. Heath Slater then kicks him around for a minute, and Bob Backlund puts him into a Cross Chicken Wing submission and wins. Weird.
We get the results of the WWE Universe’s decision to have Michael Cole wrestle Jerry Lawler, which of course was 75% in favor of them wrestling tonight. Michael Cole starts to complain, and is interrupted mid sentence by a commercial break. When we return Booker T and Josh Matthews are doing commentary. Cole tries to coward his way out of the ring, but is thrown back in by Booker T. Lawler feigns a handshake between the two of them, and then hoists him into a fireman’s carry, and spins him around. Being dizzy is apparently enough for him to pin Cole, and the match ends. Then the Anon-GM sends a message, claiming that due to Booker T’s “interference” he’s reversing the decision, and Michael Cole’s undefeated reign continues.
Then Santino enters the ring, claiming he’s searched every inch of the WWE Stadium, looking for the Anon-GM. He deduces that the GM must be under the ring, and the GM sends messages saying there is nobody under the ring, in a ploy to dissuade Santino from searching under the ring. He does, of course, and begins to be pulled under, but is helped out by Lawler, and clinging to Santino’s legs is Hornswoggle. This whole time, the Anonymous Raw General Manager was Hornswoggle. Seriously. Hornswoggle. He then kicks Lawler, and bites Santino’s butt. I’m… I have no words for how stupid this segment was. Moments like this make me ashamed to be a WWE fan, and I’m going to have to take like 10 more Tyson Kidd shots to forget this crap.
I totally forgot about this match. The previous example of extreme stupidity wiped it from my mind, which is quite a feat. Stupidity induced amnesia is quite rare you know. Well the match begins, and we get the good-as-usual-but-not-AMAZING Punk/Bryan interplay that they have on Raw. AJ gets tagged in, and her and Eve trade a decent set of blows against each other, and then start doing the usual Diva style roll around fighting. AJ gets the upperhand, and Eve attempts to tag in Daniel Bryan, who then refuses to be tagged. AJ quickly rolls up Eve for the win.
Bryan then claims this is him proving his true love for AJ, and says they should leave and get married right then and there. AJ ponders, and CM Punk makes the same argument he did earlier, pointing out that Bryan is using her, and doesn’t have any real feelings for her. He then truthfully admits he will not marry AJ, but admits he cares enough about her to be honest. AJ cries, and then smiles, and then slaps CM Punk. and then tearfully slaps Daniel Bryan. The show ends as she starts laughing, and “Yes-ing” her way up the ramp. Lending credence to my theory that she is the mastermind player, using these two men to her own end. She knows exactly what she’s doing.
Yeah, she knows what she’s doing.
Sometimes, WWE will try an episode out like this, which is comedy-promo heavy, and very light on wrestling. Sometimes, it works out, and you get hilarious and memorable promos and segments, like nearly the entire McMahon/Austin feud. Some nights, like tonight, it’s nearly unwatchable and cartoonishly bad. The whole Punk/AJ/Bryan thing only works when the stakes are directly tied and centered around a match, and as much as I like that storyline, 20+ minutes of wrestlers standing around and talking about their feelings, is tiring. I love me some ridiculous WWE action but take overwrought melodrama, and add it to pure retard fuel like Santino Ace Detective, and Hornswoggle the Secret Mastermind Anonymous General Manager, and you’ve got a recipe for bad television, and atrocious wrestling. I understand they call it sports entertainment, but holy hell guys, don’t forget the SPORT your show is based on. Meanwhile, i’ll be sitting over here, rocking in my chair, trying to remind myself I’m not really stupid for enjoying WWE.
It’s a funny thing that the signs in the crowd tonight were so on point. They pretty much sum up my feelings for tonight’s show.
I feel for you CM Punk. I do. You, AJ and Daniel Bryan all deserve better than this. Well, when an episode of Raw is this bad, I can really only think one thought at the end. And that’s really? Really? REALLY?