Tonight’s episode of Raw follows probably one of the most disappointing Royal Rumbles I’ve seen in years. Disappointing mostly because it was so insanely predictable that it ended up just being depressing rather than exciting. On top of that the match between CM Punk and Rock being incredibly underwhelming, and you had a PPV I was sure glad I didn’t pay for this month.
Well tonight’s Raw is in Las Vegas, Nevada, so they’ve brought back one of the weirdest features they occasionally use, which is the Raw Roulette Wheel. Basically there’s a wheel with gimmick match types, people spin it and that’s the match they have to do. Unfortunately this means we don’t get to see a bevy of cage matches, or No DQ’s, or anything interesting. It means we get a bunch of “joke” match ups, or different things meant to essentially set up lame comedy skits. Raw was packed with that kind of thing tonight, and if it wasn’t for a handful of great moments, would have been one of the worst Raws in a long time.
Like I said, Rock and Punk’s match was very underwhelming, and without going into extreme detail (So many rest holds), I’ll just say I was disappointed that Punk “lost” after winning, because The Rock can demand a rematch immediately if he loses for some reason. However it was almost worth it to see Punk storm out on tonight’s show, absolutely fuming, barely less than 24 hours after the fact. I kept laughing at the idea that Punk had left the arena after the Rumble, into his private bus and utterly destroyed everything around him, shaking with rage. Then being tortured by it all night and day, seething with anger and waiting until Raw to talk about it. Watching him explode with anger so wildly was really funny, and somehow managed to endear him to me all the more. It’s like his passion and love of that belt has gone beyond wanting to be the champion, and is now some obsessive need that barely keeps his complete psychosis reeled in.
I’ve been pretty impressed with Randy Orton lately, not because he’s gotten better, but because he’s more or less actually taking steps to stop being an Invincible White Guy so much. Of course he’s still winning matches like this against Antonio Cesaro, but he’s out of the main title scene, and is making the mid-card work pretty well. When he’s up in the main card he’s pretty boring, but in the mid-card now, he’s gone from being a given winner to actually having good matches with the people he’s wrestling. I’ve praised Antonio Cesaro plenty in this column so it’s a given that he’s always great, and I’m hoping we’ll get to see him on the main card one day. The problem with this match is that Miz as the special referee didn’t really add anything to the story of the match. Typically a special referee match should carry more weight with it, but it didn’t do much as Miz more or less called it down the line. The feud between Cesaro and Miz seems really forced and doesn’t make any sense or provide any real reason as to why Miz is the guy we should be cheering over Cesaro, so frankly I don’t. Cesaro is pretty much better than Miz in every way, and I LOVED The Miz.
This is the beginning of the stupid nonsense from the Roulette that would bog down the entire show and make it nearly unwatchable. Vickie Guerrero was hosting the Roulette and had 3 wheels, one with the match stipulations, one with a bunch of superstars (that we never saw her actually spin, or if she did I consistently missed it each time), and the other with a random list of non-wrestling related activities whose place I’ll never understand on a wrestling show. Anyhow, The Ryback and The Primetime Players were picked for a Make Me Laugh challenge. At first, I thought this was great. Previously every time we’ve seen The Ryback talk it’s been weird at worst, and downright unintentionally poetic at best. We all know the PTP are funny, so their joke was a let down, but I was hoping big for The Ryback to actually tell a joke. Even a stupid 3rd grader one would have been great, but he just beat them up. I was totally ready to write off this segment as a wash, but then The Ryback Rybacked Matt Striker, who is a sniveling little shrew man who I can’t stand, so that redeemed it for me. Granted it’s another case of a wrestler beating up non-wrestling personnel, but Matt Striker is just the worst. WWE, in the future, have The Ryback tell us some reserved existential jokes about whether or not his hunger is spiritual, and then we can talk.
There’s a great story being told here with this rivalry. At the Rumble, having come from NXT and formed the Nexus, Wade Barrett targeted current NXT rookie Bo Dallas, but ended up getting eliminated by Bo Dallas himself. Tonight Wade got to choose the match himself, and picked Bo Dallas to get revenge. Their match was relatively short, and Bo Dallas pulled a 1-2-3 Kid and shocked everyone by quickly getting a pin on Barrett. I was completely expecting Barrett to destroy him and the fact that he didn’t was really refreshing. I’m pretty glad that the WWE is no longer afraid to bring in some new talent into the picture and I hope they keep on using more people from NXT. I could see it all leading to the New New Nexus stable I’ve been talking about for a while, but this time with actually New Nexus members. You could have Barrett form his own New New Nexus of former Nexus members, and then the NXT members would form their own New-New New Nexus, with all new New Nexus members who are new to the New-New New Nexus. It’d be something new.
John Cena. Man am I tired of writing about you. Your matches have no suspense, no drama, you cut terrible promos, you do the same 5 moves over and over each match, right down to that being nearly the only moves you did in this very match. It’s like you’re purposely trying to aggravate me in every way possible and it’s the worst thing I can imagine every week is seeing someone go up against you, because I know the next few minutes are immediately a foregone conclusion. Don’t believe me? One of my favorite bloggers Angry Jake over at Jakehateseverything.com took the time and effort to look through the back catalog of Cena’s matches in PPV’s to see when exactly he became the prototypical Invincible White Guy of WWE.
The guy had to go back four whole goddamned years, and in those four only FIVE GODDAMNED TIMES was Cena ever beaten cleanly. It says something about the man that he’s more or less refused to actually lose “for real” as many times as you can count on one hand in 4 whole years, and even more as to why his matches hold no real meaning for me. What’s the point of cheering a guy as an underdog or a guy who can overcome all odds when the odds are and have been disproportionately stacked in his favor for years on end? He’s like a cheap end game boss with 5 life bars, regenerating health and a million distracting minor bosses on the side to keep you from ever actually beating him. I know there are people out there who are Cena fans, like actual grown men, but for the life of me I still don’t understand why. What is it about him that is so appealing? I seriously don’t get it. His presence is perplexing to me in every way, and the worst thing is if I was a WWE writer I’d have no idea how to fix his character. I’d just make him a werewolf, and hope for the best.
After that pointless match we got to highlight #2 of the night, where we finally, FINALLY see The Shield absolutely wreck John Cena, then tear through Sheamus, and finally take down The Ryback, all in perfect succession. I really like The Shield, and it was great to see them finally take down the entire spectrum of the IWG in one fell swoop. I was getting tired of seeing The Shield beaten up by these guys who are way bigger than they are, and their serving of justice was much appreciated. Next time they should tie them all together and force them to listen to Great Khali singing, and make Cena promise to stop making stupid promos, Sheamus to stop being an awful racist, and The Ryback to… I dunno, get a personality. Or devolve back into Skip Sheffield. Regardless, Great Khali singing should only be used as a form of torture from now on, and certainly not in a pointless joke skit later in this show.
I’ll be honest, I went into this segment expecting to roll my eyes out of my head and puke for hours on end in disgust. At first it went that way, as Funkasaurus’ dance moves are tired and I don’t care about him anymore, like at all. Then it came to Tensai, who still believed it was a lingerie match. No I didn’t laugh at Tensai wearing lingerie, because it wasn’t funny, and in fact he was actually more clothed than normal wearing it so I have no idea why he was “covering up”. I laughed when he started dancing because for a single shining moment it actually looked like Tensai was having fun, and I’ll be damned if that isn’t infectious. On top of that, he shockingly HAD MOVES!
I guess they’re slowly trying to get Tensai over as a comedic relief wrestler, because his stint as a weird, semi-racist, uncharismatic fake japanese wrestler white guy was pretty horribly received by everyone. I’m not saying I want him shucking and jiving his way into the ring from now on, but if he can continue to actually just be entertaining to watch I’ll be happy.
This is the highlight of the night by far. I’ve often complained that in the WWE, good guys never act like good guys, and bad guys never act like bad guys, and for the most part that still holds true. Thankfully, with Alberto Del Rio and Big Show, we’ve finally got a bad guy who acts like the worst MFer there is, and a good guy who actually is pretty damn heroic and good. At the Rumble Del Rio did kinda/sorta cheat to win, by having Ricardo duct tape Big Show to the ropes so he couldn’t stand up for the Last Man Standing match, and I’ll be honest it was saddening to see him start to go that path of the typical WWE face, but it was a far cry from the typical unforgivable BS that Cena and Sheamus pull on the reg.
Well anyhow, Big Show comes out here tonight, immediately knocks out Del Rio, duct tapes him to the rope, and starts beating the everliving crap out of Ricardo in front of Del Rio while he looks on helplessly, unable to help his best friend get destroyed mercilessly. It was pure goddamned evil from Big Show, and was finally something an actual BAD GUY would do to somebody who didn’t deserve it at all, and now Alberto Del Rio is JUST in whatever retribution he enacts against Big Show, because tying someone up and beating the crap out of their friend in front of them is BAD, and deserves punishment. That’s what bad guys and heels are supposed to do, deserve the punishment they’ll get from good guys and faces, so that a sense of justice is served and vicariously lived out by the audience. It made me hate Big Show because what he did was wrong, and like Del Rio because I can’t wait to see him enact said justice. Thankfully, it’s finally on the correct sides of the moral spectrum as to who should be getting comeuppance in this feud, and that sort of thing is as refreshing as it is depressing.
What? What is this match? Showgirl Lumberjills? Why are the Lumberjills interrupting the match by jumping into the ring? Why does that end the match? Why can’t it just finish? Why is the Divas division basically 2 women now? Why don’t Kaitlyn and Tamina just finish the match anyway? Why was this even on my tv? Why didn’t I just fast forward it?
This promo is important for two reasons. The first and most obvious is Punk setting up the rematch at Elimination Chamber, which blugh. Whatever. The second though, is how much he’s getting booed despite saying probably the smartest, truest damn thing anyone’s ever said as a comeback against the audience, and tells them how in 20 years they’ll all be talking about how much of a genius he was. He’s 100% right, because anyone who’s watched his Best In The World dvd knows they’re already starting to do that for him, and that was before he became his current BITW Heel persona.
A lot has been said about The Rock not deserving the title, and how he’s a terrible character, and that him being the champion undermines the meaning of the title in the modern era by virtue that a retired, 10 years gone wrestler of an older era who can’t be bothered to actually show up and properly return is now “better” than the rest of the roster by being it’s champion. I’m not really sure I can say anything that hasn’t already been said, either by Punk himself or by any of the myriad other wrestling writers out there, so I’ll just say that I really hope Rock leaves again soon, and doesn’t come back. He’s not doing the WWE any favors, the WWE is just favoring him.
Well here goes another Sheamus match. Sheamus, unlike Cena, at least has a repertoire of moves, so his matches are unceasingly repetitive. I thought for a moment that perhaps the nature of it being a table match meant Sandow could outthink Sheamus and perhaps shove him through a table, or generally make it happen in a way that would be surprising. Unfortunately that’s not the case, and Sheamus simply destroyed him and slammed him through a table as was to be expected. I really hate this kind of wrestling match. Not table matches mind you, which I think are just fine, but I hate it when there’s no suspense as to who is going to win. I went in trying to trick myself thinking maybe Sandow could, but when Sheamus goes and does his thing it just puts be back into a lapsed state of boredom and I start wondering why I even watch this show. That’s not a good thing, and it shouldn’t happen. I don’t understand how the average fan can be happy with the same guys winning all of the time forever and ever, but I guess they are. I dunno, maybe just give me an actual reason to like Sheamus and I’ll see it? Either way let’s stop pretending like putting up mid-carders against main-card talent liker his is at all a contest.
This pointless joke skit should not be in this wrestling show. This is a wrestling show, not some weird segment on a WWE themed episode of The Surreal Life. Am I dating myself with that reference? Oh well. I was actually kind of looking forward to 3MB actually singing, but once again Great Khali ruins everything. Make this nonsense stop.
GUYS! Jericho is back! Again! I wonder how many times he’s gonna have a return. The dude is the Rolling Stones of wrestling. He’s had how many final comebacks now? I’m not exactly complaining because I love Jericho, but just be honest with us and just tell us he’s leaving for a few months to tour with his band instead of coming up with a slew of ridiculous reasons as to why he’s getting fired, or suspended, or leaving, or whatever. On top of that, you’ve got Vickie who was the one to sign him, which makes perfect sense since AJ more or less signed him out, and he’s the Batman to Ziggler’s Bane, as I’ve previously illustrated in this column. It also contributes towards my theory that they’re slowly trying to get the audience to hate Vickie less. I’m not sure if they’re trying to turn her face, but moves like this surely are things the audience likes, and are a step towards her being a good/fan friendly General Manager/Supervisor/Whatever. If you’ve ever been to a live WWE event, then you’ll know just how loudly she gets booed every time she shows up, and how much of an effort it’d take to make everyone suddenly not hate her. You wouldn’t believe how much they edit the sound levels for the Raw/Smackdown broadcast when she comes on, because when it’s live, I swear to you it’s impossible to even hear her.
Also why does Big E Langston’s singlet keep getting smaller? Eventually he’ll just be wearing that Borat bikini.
I totally forgot this match even happened despite it having four of my favorite wrestlers in it. I suppose that’s because it was about 4 minutes long, and was mostly just a stepping stone to further show us how Team Hell No are dysfunctional now after the Royal Rumble. But they’ve always been dysfunctional. So… Well it was nice to see Jericho wrestling again. For a minute.
Hey! Alright! Finally some payoff to this storyline! So as we all suspected all along, Paul Heyman really did pay off Brad Maddox and The Shield. Vince McMahon continues to ask Heyman about his honor and whatnot, and the entire time Heyman denies ever being in collusion with Maddox or The Shield at all. Then McMahon shows him the most damning hidden security tape in the world, showing Heyman clearly talking about paying off Maddox and The Shield, quite blatantly. Heyman then claiming that it still wasn’t him was goddamned hilarious. You gotta give the guy props for sticking to his lie. Brock Lesnar showing up was yet another surprise tonight, as I genuinely didn’t expect him to show up at all.
I’m probably one of the handful of wrestling fans who really doesn’t like Brock Lesnar at all. I don’t like his character, I don’t like the man, and I don’t really care about seeing him in the WWE ever again. However I do have to admit I did like him picking up Vince McMahon and F5ing him to death, because Vince is just the worst, and Paul Heyman’s screams of NOOO! NO MORE! NO MORE! STOP! NO MORE! STOP! while hovering over McMahon’s dead body are pretty hilarious. I was really sad that Heyman was about to be fired, so I have to thank Lesnar from keeping that from happening.
As the final shot of Raw came to a close on Vince McMahon’s lifeless body, I kept thinking about how things in the WWE right now seem like they’re in a strange reluctant transition period. We’re slowly getting more new talent, but we’ve got an old champion, and an old chairman. I’ve said here before that I think Triple H must be doing a better job in his executive position because he’s allegedly responsible for all the new wrestlers on the show. I can only hope that once Vince McMahon finally steps down, we’ll get to see at the very least, the wrestling in World Wrestling Entertainment become highlighted again. Shows like tonight, that are a host to a series of stupid gimmick matches, with moments of genuine shock and surprise scattered throughout are all the more frustrating, because I can’t just hate it entirely, but I can’t love it all the way either. Hopefully next week things will be better.
Now dance Tensai! Dance!