Category Archives: Inside the Ring

The Grizzly’s Spotlight: A WWE First and Last – The Phenom vs. The Icon

On March 26, 2001 the WWE made their purchase of WCW known to the world. The idea of dream matches that would take place after that was endless. Goldberg vs Stone Cold, Triple H vs Scott Steiner, and so on. Although initially not all members of the WCW roster showed up on RAW the next week, eventually they all found their way into World Wrestling Entertainment. All… but one. Sting was possibly the biggest name in the WCW in those days. He had been groomed by “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. He was a multi-time World champion, and a member of the notorious NWO. When the company was sold he opted to not join WWE, for his own personal reasons.

Still to this day he remains the biggest name in pro wrestling to never compete in a WWE ring. However, every year about this time, the rumor mill begins to turn and people start whispering. Stings contract with TNA expires at the end of this year. If he does come to WWE it will be, undoubtedly, to square off with the Undertaker. The dream match has been talked about since they were both in their prime 20 years ago. While Sting coming to WWE to face Taker at Mania is all well and good, there are intangibles at play here that people don’t seem to be grasping. Taker vs. Sting has been a dream match for decades sure, but how many other superstars still to this day want one match with the icon?

WWE's The Undertaker

Guys like The Rock, HBK, HHH, and even Stone Cold Steve Austin have stated their desire for a match with the legend. If Sting were to come aboard do you really think these guys would sit back and pass up the opportunity at one more dream match? More importantly, would WWE allow all that money in PPV buys to just drift by? The answer is an emphatic, no. Here lies the problem.

Undertaker has a two decade long undefeated streak at Wrestlemania. For years people have predicted the man to end it all would be the Icon Sting. The problem with that is that the streak has become almost bigger than Wrestlemania alone. And the reality is, every single WCW star that came to WWE was buried by the company in the end. Maybe out of spite from the Monday night wars. So what you are essentially looking at is the final battle of WCW vs WWE. And in what world can you see Vince McMahon allowing Sting to take that final win. It can’t happen, and it won’t happen.

[box_dark]“It’s no secret. I’ve always wanted to wrestle Undertaker; I’ve said that for years. And who would not want to work Wrestlemania.”

-Sting[/box_dark]

Icon vs Phenom taker
The Phenom

UNLESS…  reality sets in that this might be Takers final match. If that’s the case, would Vince allow Taker to ride off into the sunset with an undefeated record at Wrestlemania? No one is bigger than Wrestlemania to the McMahons, and a lifelong undefeated streak seems awfully bigger than a PPV to me. The obvious next problem is the line of hall of famers who either wrestle Sting before or after Mania. Surely you can’t allow Sting to be beat by them before he has the biggest win in Wrestlemania history.  One way or another, this match will be billed the biggest match of all time. Andre vs. Hulk will be forgotten after the dust settles from this. Sting stated he was “very close” to a deal last year, and by comments from him and Hulk Hogan recently, it seems inevitable that he is coming. 2014 is gonna be a big year for old time wrestling fans.

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Legendary WWE Announcer Jim “JR” Ross Retires

Legendary WWE announcer Jim “JR” Ross has announced he will be officially retiring from pro wrestling yesterday. TMZ broke the story and was confirmed by WWE.com. Although a case could be made that he really retired several years ago, he has made it official.

jim-ross

JR was the lead man during the glory days of WWE during the “Attitude Era”. His mic work while with WWE was epic. He had the opportunity to call some of the biggest matches in history of pro wrestling. He even had a hand in helping coining nicknames for so many iconic stars such as “The Rattlesnake Steve Austin”. What made his work so good was that you could always sense he was every bit as big a fan as we were watching from home. His over the top and eccentric emotions screamed through the television every Monday night. One could almost credit his passion as a key element to the success of the WWE product through the 90’s and early 2000’s.

jim ross2JR was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007. He has made a habit of frequent cameos on Monday Night Raw and calling select matches at different pay-per-views. However, his most recent appearance was at the Summerslam symposium. A collection of past superstars were on stage answering questions to promote the show and new video game. Some rather unflattering remarks about WWE management were made by hall of famers like Ric Flair. Consequently Ross came under fire for his lack of control over the stars that night. He was later quoted saying, “You can also say this wasn’t rehearsed. This was real, this was reality television at its best. I’ve lost complete control of my job. I’m sure I’ll never be asked back and this has probably destroyed what career I have left.

With that being noted, and no official comment made by good ole JR since WWE posted his retirement, it might be safe to say this wasn’t entirely his call. Nonetheless old boomer sooner makes some pretty bangin BBQ sauce and that seems to be going well for him. So I think he’ll be alright.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WWE Monday Night Raw Recap & Review 5/13/13

Tonight’s Raw opens up with Jerry Lawler telling everybody that there is going to be a dance contest between Jericho and Fandango, in order to settle some aspect of their rivalry. Particularly the dance related portion, because Jericho was on Dancing With The Stars you see.

This is one of those segments where I can literally imagine the writers of the WWE sitting in a circle, flabbergasted and totally unable to accept or embrace the organic popularity of Fandango, and have no idea how to capitalize on it in any way that doesn’t seem forced or weird. So they come up with stupid things like making his titantron entrance spell out the ‘Da Da Da Da Dada Da” words to his theme song to assist people in singing it, or putting him in dance contests with Jericho because reality tv. I like Jericho the wrestler, I like Fandango the character, why can’t we just have them fight, and Fandango continue to insanely insist his name is being mispronounced? Insane flamenco dancer is better than whatever the hell it is they’re trying to go with for Fandango right now. Granted he’s still flashy, fun to watch, and his entrance doesn’t take Funkasaurus levels of length and redundancy to come in yet, but I fear that’ll happen soon. They clearly have no idea how to handle Fandango right now, because for the first time something became popular in spite of them, and now they’re scrambling to understand why.

Holy crap what the hell did Zack Ryder do to get buried SO hard? I know i’ve given him crap as a lame-o, annoying little brother character before, but he’s clearly trying to change something about himself. The hair being down, the new style of ring wear. I’m tentatively hopeful they’ll take my insane-Bob-Backlund idea and use it for him, but I don’t think they will. I wonder if Zack Ryder is genuinely trying to get over seriously now, or if he’s just depressed? I heard he quit doing his silly internet videos, but I haven’t checked for myself to see. Basically, if I hear that Zack Ryder got released from the WWE soon, I wouldn’t be surprised at all. It’d be a bummer, because he’s halfway talented, but just can’t hold the spotlight. Or he really pissed off somebody higher up, and they’ve consistently decided to hold him back over and over, except for a brief period last year. That’s how it goes with some guys I think. Not everyone can breakout from the bottom rung and ascend to the top.

This is one of those mid-card tag team matches that is hard to care about for a bunch of reasons. The main being that between the two teams, we’ve barely been given any story to tell between them. Not throughout the length of the show week to week, but just in the ring. These guys come into the ring and really seem to be going through the motions with each other, rather than telling a captivating in-ring story with their tag team wrestling. The closest we got was Darren Young using his afro pick to hit Funkasaurus in the face, which is a classic heel move, despite not making any sense. Usually when a heel hits a wrestler with an object, it’s inherently “loaded” in some fashion. It’s implied it has an added weight to it, or is in itself something you wouldn’t want to get hit with for fear of injury. Absolutely not the case with an afro-pick. The worst I can imagine from an afro-pick would be gouging it into your eyes, and this was not done. Are we supposed to by that getting hit with an afro-pick is somehow more devastating than a normal punch from a 200+ pound man? Am I supposed to believe the afro-pick is functioning on some level as one of those plastic personal self defense devices you see for sail in weird knife catalogs? I’m just gonna pretend it was something else because every possibility I think of is somehow worse than what actually happened, so that’s a first.

As per the rules I’ve established in this column, I refuse to write about Kofi Kingston unless he’s getting horribly beaten and/or thrashed about backstage. Being that neither of these things happened in this match, I’ve no interest in commenting on it. Kofi is the worst. That is all.

This segment was stupid, because it really only served to hype up the strap match between Sheamys and Mark Henry for Extreme Rules, but in a forced inorganic way, that had Mark Henry gingerly explain the rules of the match to a crowd of fans who didn’t really care. Granted I’ll give them most people probably don’t know what a strap match is, so good on them for explaining it. I dunno though, maybe try explaining it at Extreme Rules though? To the audience that’ll be watching it and should know? You can get audiences excited based on the merit of the feud that Sheamus and Henry are having, and make the match stipulation the cherry on top, rather than the entire sundae itself. I digress however, because not for one second in any universe, how in the world am I supposed to buy that Mark Henry is too afraid to get whipped by a 6′ 2″ white as hell irish man wh…. Oh.

OH.

OKAY THEN. WOW.

Well then. Moving on.

So this match brings the amount of times Randy Orton has beaten a mid-card talent who deserves better, for no real reason other than “Randy Orton” to approximately 5,291. I’ve literally lost count of how many times he’s beaten both Wade Barrett and Antonio Cesaro, and it’s utterly maddening because they were usually the mid-card champions when it happened, and nothing ever came of it because Randy Orton. Why people are fans of Randy Orton, I really, truly, still do not understand. Yes I like his pose, but it’s wasted on him. I feel like I’ve written this same anti-Orton paragraph a million times, probably because I have. This is what Randy Orton is, he’s the same damn thing, doing the same damn moves, in the same predictable way, with no sense of excitement or charisma, or really anything interesting to bring to the table. At least John Cena will occasionally throw a hurracanrana or flip out and make a balls out wacky-but-really-bad-so-bad-it-hurts promo from time to time. Randy Orton just stands there and raises his arms. In a perfect world, he’d have some psychopath gimmick to explain why he never talks or does anything.

I love the idea of Heath Slater and 3MB being hilariously delusional as to the effectiveness of their abilities. Every week they really truly think they’re going to come out, blow the socks off of everyone, beat whoever they have a beef with, and leave the arena to thunderous applause. They’ve taken the concept of an air guitar and applied to almost every aspect of their lives. They have air confidence, air popularity, and even air wrestling ability. Which isn’t to say they aren’t shoot talented, but goddamn. Heath Slater is the perfect kind of guy for Miz to go up against, because I can viably understand someone like Miz beating him cleanly, and I can totally accept that Heath Slater would be shocked from that loss, because it’s The Miz. He’s not the greatest, but he’s not the worst either. He used to be an annoying on purpose mega-douche heel, but not he’s just that annoying bro that laughs too much at his own jokes, but has a posse that’ll force themselves to laugh with him. Only now that posse is several thousand people in an arena. Conversely, Heath Slater has the exact opposite thing going on, where the jokes he makes are really funny, but thousands of people don’t get it or can’t.

Holy crap this was a good match. Here’s a great example of what I mean when I say that there’s a story being told in the ring. We know the dynamics of how The Shield work, we know that Kane and Daniel Bryan have their powerhouse/technical thing, and John Cena is used as the sparing instrument of blunt force he should be used as. He’s an unstoppable machine basically, but using him sparingly, building to him coming out rather than taking on all comers at all times, is the way to use him. We know he’s invincible, so keeping him limited that way works well to build suspense. On top of that, the effective use of the elimination tag stipulation was brilliant, and brought the whole thing together as a whole. Right up until Roman Reigns was eliminated I thought The Shield had it in the bag, and afterward while I knew Cena would win, I was still surprised to see it happen by DQ. Every person in this match is incredibly talented in their own ways, and they complemented each other perfectly tonight. Matches like this are the reminder of exactly how awesome and great tag team matches can be, when they’re not boring pieces of crap like that PTP/ Tons Of Funk match from earlier. More stuff like this please, and make it the main event of the evening? Because WHY WOULDN’T YOU?

Here’s another good example of one of my favorite type of matches, which is two big ass strong guys realistically challenging each other in a battle of strength and speed. Big E Langston looks great picking up Swagger nearly effortlessly for a top rope superplex, and Swagger picks up the win using his ingenuity and wherewithal to win by count out, which is something I haven’t seen effectively used in a long time. I know they’re building towards the Swagger/Del Rio match, but Langston really ought get more matches like these, where he looks challenged but still dominant. I prefer that every time over “Big guy squashes little dude to assert dominance” every single time, because holy HELL have we seen that story a bunch. They did it three times at the same time last year, with (then) Tensai, Funkasaurus and The Ryback all at once. It’s pretty clear they sometimes throw whatever they can at the dartboard just to see what’ll stick, and that time it was The Ryback. Now they should just try working on focusing their aim, because Langston really does have a great in ring presence. Despite his weird, meaty buttocks that cling too tightly to his singlet.

No, I'm not going to post a picture of Big E Langston's butt on here, so you'll just have to deal with this instead.
No, I’m not going to post a picture of Big E Langston’s butt on here, so you’ll just have to deal with this instead.

http://youtu.be/ecgPmHnLVk4

At this point I’m just glad to see women’s matches on Raw, and furthermore to see AJ competing in them, because she’s goddamned adorable and I love her. The only downside is that the commentary turns into a f**king reddit thread every time they have one now. Lawler won’t stop calling AJ a slut, the Bellas (who were on commentary for the match) won’t stop being horribly jealous, insecure, women haters and Michael Cole and JBL more or less just chuckle to everyone’s terrible, sexist jokes and enable them in the process. It would be impossible to just comment on how talented these female athletes are of their own accord in any way right? I love women and I love wrestling and I’d love to see good women’s wrestling without having to feel like it’s some downplayed, forbidden product or an embarrassment to the industry I love, or worse, to feel embarrassed for my whole gender by their reaction to women wrestling.

Plus, AJ had possibly one of the greatest, smoothest, most amazing submission counters I’ve ever seen, and she deserves recognition for how amazing it was.

WWE Monday Night Raw Recap & Review 5:13:13- AJ-Black Widow-Submission

And of course the reason why The Shield/Team Hell No/Cena aren’t the main event of the show is because of Triple H’s massive ego needing to claim the spotlight. I don’t care about this storyline. I don’t care about Brock Lesnar, I don’t care about Triple H. Best case scenario for me is they both permanently injure each other forever, and we never have to see either of them again. It’s the worst thing about the show, and every single time they’re brought up I roll my eyes and ignore it. I don’t even have anything interesting to say about them, because this has literally been the same, boring, stupid story for a year now. I’m done with it, and the fact that it’s closing out Raw only goes to show how badly the booking is being done. Why not have a “main event” close out every hour of Raw? Why not make this the middle? Why not have the best match come at the end? Why not do anything logically or reasonably? Why do we need to keep pretending Brock Lesnar is someone we’re supposed to care about, along with Triple H?

Anyhow, that’s awful. Here’s another picture of AJ, because bluuuughhh, let’s get all that dumb Lesnar/Triple H crap out of our heads.

WWE Monday Night Raw Recap & Review- 5:13:13- AJ Lee

Oh AJ. You’re wonderful. Just wonderful.

WWE Monday Night Raw Recap & Review 4/29/13

Tonight’s Raw opens up nearly immediately with a strange match between Ricardo Rodriguez, Zeb Colter and Big E Langston, which is strange for a multitude of reasons. The main one being that I feel like I missed something from an episode of Smackdown as to the particular reason this matchup even happened in the first place, or perhaps I missed something from last Raw. All I know is that it’s a No DQ match that involved the managers of the usual wrestlers, and the no DQ part never came into play until the end. So really, it was utterly bizarre.

This is the kind of match where the odds are so obviously stacked towards Big E, that the entire time I was watching it I kept expecting something to distract him so one of the “non-wrestlers” could steal a win. Sure enough that’s what happened, and I expected Zeb Colter to win, but it turned out to be Ricardo. I’m glad, because I really like Ricardo Rodriguez and seeing him happy always makes me happy. He has the mod infectious smile! Ahem. Yes and the good part is that Alberto Del Rio got to use this win to make the stipulation for the Triple Threat match between him, Ziggler and Swagger, and made it a ladder match. Ladder matches are never boring, so that’ll be interesting to see eventually.

Racist Zeb Colter doesn't approve.
Racist Zeb Colter doesn’t approve.

Aw jesus. This is the exact sort of thing that gets me all riled up. How do you boo a man who’s basically making 3 little sick kids dreams come true? That’s the line between being a smark and just being a stupid asshole. I may not always like John Cena’s character, but he makes hundreds of children’s dreams come true and for that I always have to respect the man. Now that being said, man do I hate these segments on the show. It’s nice, and good on him for making the kids have a special moment, but they’re just standing there, all three nearly identical, with their identical moms, and god… Is it horrible if I say to pick sick kids with more personality to grant wishes to? Hell, maybe I’d freeze up too if I was put on live television, so I can’t really blame them. I do have to congratulate those kids on their wrestling names, because somehow they picked kinda awesome 80’s style wrestler gimmick names. Including the first kid who even said it in that stereotypical Hulk Hogan style wrestling way, where you breath in really deep and making your voice all raspy and weird. I don’t know how kids these days are even still getting the cues to talk like a stereotypical wrestler, because those stereotypes don’t really exist anymore, but I guess some things never change. Either that or wrestlers from the 80’s accidentally mimicked the natural strange cadence of a young child yelling strangely. Which actually doesn’t sound too far off. All I know is that “Lightnin'” Logan is actually a pretty badass name for a wrestler.

This is the first time in a long time that a match happened on Raw because that was the card, and there was no real storyline reason for it to happen. Ostensibly Raw is supposed to be a wrestling show, with a card that’s pre-made, but every night things go wrong, or the General Managing Managers make on the spot decisions to change the card. Presumably every night on Raw dozens of matches are being bumped every time Triple H comes out to talk about nothing for half an hour, or John Cena get’s CHALLENGED TO MATCH, RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW! So to see an actual match just happen with no real provocation or reason, reminded me that Raw is actually supposed to be a normal wrestling show. Most of the time anyway.

What made it more interesting though, was seeing them openly acknowledge continuity by mentioning how Cody Rhodes and Randy Orton used to be in a group called Legacy together, that has since long broken up. It actually added a bit of depth to the match, that was promptly sucked up by the whirlpool of boring and un-charisma that is Randy Orton. Every single time I see Orton in a match, he looks bored. I suppose he’s going for aloof confidence, but it comes off as bored, and it shows. Every match of his is him going through the motions. There are times when I look at him and I can see an interesting character that could be developed, but it’s too difficult when he’s sleepwalking through all of his matches.

And here we finally have an example of a referee finally noticing that the Bella Twins totally are discernible from each other now. Granted they didn’t go on a big thing about one being “larger” than the other like they did last week, but still. “Twin Magic” was never even that viable of a move anyway, because it’s not like the other fresh twin would use her renewed strength and vigor to overcome her tired opponent, she’d just go for a roll up every single time, and somehow this time, the roll up was effective. Basically the other twin could have gone for the roll up and have won on her own, but the magic in twin magic must be that the roll up pin becomes unstoppable? Either that or it’s just horrible, stupid booking meant to purposely sell a bad product in relation to the men’s wrestling? Either or.

This started out as your typical Shield promo, where they talk about their accomplishments, and list who they’re after next, and explain to you something about some vague sense of justice. In the past it was easy and obvious to argue their points for justice, because the guys they were attacking or fighting, despite being fan favorites or faces, were still pretty morally in the wrong. I understand The Shield are bad guys, and while it’s not like their motives are exactly bad per se, they just seem to be going along. You could argue their entire motives are just to disrupt the status quo, and that their entire sense of perceived injustice is based on the way things are now. But when they attacked Undertaker the only explanation they gave is some vague explanation about them not bowing down to anyone. I’m guessing the subtext there is that they believe all institutions should end, and they mean to be a guiding agent through which justice will enact its will. Unfortunately, right around the time they were about to get to the point, 3MB entered.

Hilariously, my prediction about 3MB has come true. They’re now an entirely delusional group of fake rocker/wrestlers who think they’re stronger than they actually are, and attempted to take on The Shield, who promptly stomped their asses into the ground. I like that 3MB really honestly feel under appreciated and overlooked by The Shield, and see themselves as worthy opponents to them. They’re the real underdogs if you think about it. Even more hilarious, Team Hell No came out to ostensibly “save” 3MB from The Shield, but then started beating the crap out of 3MB anyway. JBL said it best when he asked incredulously; “Does EVERYBODY hate 3MB?” It would seem so. Poor 3MB.

No.

I am placing this here instead of actual commentary on the millionth Ziggler/Kingston match.
I am placing this here instead of actual commentary on the millionth Ziggler/Kingston match. Because.

Here’s where I have to admit I’m a huge homo for story lines like this. Firstly, I’m just glad there’s some semblance of a women’s storyline now, and furthermore that it’s a secret admirer storyline. If you’ve been paying attention, it’s been obvious Cody Rhodes has had feelings for Kaitlyn for the past few weeks, and frankly I like a little romance story here and there, and this kind of romance story hasn’t been done in the WWE for a long time. My only issue is that Kaitlyn’s secret admirer bought her a creepy leather daddy hat, and even creepier she actually really liked it. I’ll refrain from going into the implications of what that means if Cody Rhodes bought it for her, (think Goldust and you’ll get it) but it’s a nice enough gesture. Then again there’s always the possibility it’s some retarded reveal like Hornswoggle and oh god the thought of that just depresses the hell out of me. Please let that not be the case. Hornswoggle is the worst. THE WORST.

You deserve better than Hornswoggle, Kaitlyn.
You deserve better than Hornswoggle, Kaitlyn.

I guess Zack Ryder is no longer taking care, or spiking his hair. Which is fine by me, because he looks slightly less like a douchebag, but only slightly. I’ve heard rumors he’s been trying to change his gimmick, and they really ought to have him do that Bob Backlund style broken man gimmick I proposed last week. Let’s have him start obsessively talking about Long Island, and Iced Z, all the while beating the crap out of people and claiming they’re joining his team in the “Zack Pack”. Have him release new videos online that are weird, avante garde min-Herzog films, and eventually have him come out wearing giant bear suits or painted entirely black or something. A terrifying, Herzog wrestler with no sense of reality who only believes in chaos and the nihilistic reality of Monday Night Raw is a better one than the one he has now. Every week I see him and until I see Zack Ryder do something interesting, I’m going to suggest better, alternative gimmicks for him, because this one is so tired and awful it’s nigh unbearable.

First off, why is this on my wrestling show? Or even my Sport Entertainment show? Regardless, it’s not like they haven’t done this before. And with more people against Mark Henry, and Mark Henry still won. I don’t care how fat you are or how much you can dance, you’re still not going to be stronger than 6 guys, which Mark Henry WAS, because he’s the WORLD’S STRONGEST MAN. That’s his thing! THAT’S WHAT HE DOES! It’s also all he knows. Jesus guys, please make existential crisis Mark Henry an actual thing? Please have him smash people through tables and yell “THAT’S ALL I KNOW!” in exasperated confusion and dismay! Have him do anything other than pretend to lose to Sheamus in a tug of war contest for a minute, before inevitably beating him because he’s Mark F’N Henry. Pleeease.

Hey look! Some great wrestling between two of your most talented guys! Why not give this match some meaning and stakes? Oh no? Just another match with Cesaro losing, because he’s being buried for some reason? I understand that some wrestlers just have to lose eventually, because by their nature everyone can’t be pushed all the time, but they’ve been doing a pretty terrible job at utilizing Antonio Cesaro lately, when he’s such a damned amazing talent. The fact is they had him lose to Kofi Kingston, which is really the worst insult I think you could give as a booker. There’s no way they could have looked at Cesaro, saw his gimmick, ability, mic skills and everything else and thought of no better way to wrap up his storyline with the US title than to lose it to Kofi. I’m glad Cesaro is still around and visible, because at least he’s not relegated to Main Event/Superstars purgatory. Not yet anyway, because he does have a match with Kofi on Main Event next week. As long as we’re still seeing Cesaro there’s the chance he’ll get another chance to do something interesting. I don’t care if he gets another title shot, I just want him to be active and in a storyline of some sort.

What? What is this? Why is this on my WRESTLING SHOW? WHY IS THIS ON A SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT SHOW?! Ok, I like Fandango, but good lord man. If this is what you’re bringing to the table, take it back. I like you when you’re a psychotic flamenco dancer who insists people say his name correctly, and will violently destroy anyone who says his name wrong. I don’t like you when you’re this weird, pandering sycophant to the legions of people singing your theme song. I do like you attacking Great Khali though, and I especially think you’ve mastered the top rope leg drop, because holy HELL.

Fandango-Leg DropFandango-Pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s see more of that in-ring skill Fandango. Leg drop more dudes, then dance on their graves and tell them how to say your name again. I know you’re talented at wrestling, so let’s see you show everyone how to Fandango.

How many times and in how many different ways can I say The Shield are the most effective and superior team in the WWE right now? They consistently game plan, work as a team, use strategy to their benefit and pick up wins. They’ve cracked the code of how to beat nearly any team, and unsurprisingly that’s to work together. On top of that, it seems that Roman Reign’s Spear finisher is effectively the strongest finishing move of them all, because it’s taken down every single one of the typically invincible characters in the WWE, and that includes the Undertaker! Pinning John Cena clean is also nearly impossible, so it goes without saying that Roman Reign’s spear must be like getting hit by a goddamned car. Which is unfortunate, because it looks like he’s just hugging you aggressively. But I digress, because watching The Shield win again, and seeing Raw end with new eeeeeevil The Ryback standing there, was a good enough ending to a good enough Raw.

C'mon The Ryback, you're standing there dressed like you're in Aces & Eights and you've got a Team Rocket beanie on. Go home.
C’mon The Ryback, you’re standing there dressed like you’re in Aces & Eights and you’ve got a Team Rocket beanie on. Go home.

WWE Monday Night Raw Recap & Review 4/22/13

Tonight’s Raw opens up with Paul Heyman talking.

This isn’t inherently a bad thing. Generally when he speaks I listen, because that’s what he’s really really good at. Unfortunately he’s speaking about the inane feud between Triple H and Brock Lesnar, which as we all know is exactly as boring and played out as puppies and free cake are awesome. It’s a complaint I’ve made before but for some horrific reason both Triple H and Bork Laser find themselves having to issue “challenges” to each other that all take a week for each other to respond to, and it’s nigh unbearable for me to tolerate anymore. When Heyman came out and read Triple H’s letter about Triple H needing to wait a week to give a response, I was utterly crushed to think that this nonsense would still somehow go on. Sure I was surprised when Triple H did show up, but not very pleasantly. If an absence of unfathomable frustration is what one could call pleasure, then yeah I guess I found it pretty pleasurable. At this point though, any storyline that involves Triple H I find incredibly tedious and uninteresting, but we’re bound to have them because THAT’S THE LAW.

This is one of those things that I don’t understand at all from a booking perspective. Why would you want to squander an obvious A-list potential talent like Antonio Cesaro by having him be beaten by R-Truth? I try pretty hard to not start screaming “THEY’RE JOBBING HIM OUT!” every single time a guy I like starts losing, but when you’re losing to R-goddamned-Truth of all people, it’s hard to argue against that. I liked R-Truth back when he had his completely insane, random as all get out gimmick last year, because it was funny and unpredictable, but then they had him become some weird face version of an inherently villainous gimmick, and it all fell apart. Say what you will about “loose cannons” like Brian Pillman, Drake Younger or even Jonny Moxley/Dean Ambrose, those characters tend to work best as a bad guy. The difference between them and Truth being that Truth’s character was certifiably more insane, because he had an imaginary little boy he spoke to that may or may not have been a metaphorical representation of the perceived unjust treatment he received from audiences at large.

That character is a lot more interesting than “Rapping black guy”. By that accord, so is “yodeling swiss powerhouse”, but I digress. The issue is they better be building up to something for R-Truth, because if we’re just gonna see Antonio Cesaro lose all the time and get buried up to high heaven well I’m just not gonna be very happy for a while.

This match was whatever because it’s basically a placeholder match to keep the idea of a tag team division existing in our heads, without actually having any tag team matches or a real division. It’s either Tons Of Funk (ugh) fighting Team Rhodes Scholars or The Primetime Players vs Team Hell No for the millionth time. Between the two sets of matches I’m not sure which I’m sick of more. You’ve got the terrible team of Tons Of Funk and then you’ve got the incredibly irritating repetition of PTP vs Team Hell No, and they’re both awful. Worst of all is definitely Tensai or as he’s now called “Sweet T”, because holy HELL do I feel bad for this guy now. I’ve gone full circle from not caring about him, to hating him, to wanting him to just go away, to now just pitying him. The guy is totally unable to get over in any fashion, no matter what his gimmick is. He’s failed with 4.5 gimmicks now, and nothing about his characters ever work. Sure he’s talented enough in the ring, but every time he’s not in Japan the guy can’t catch a break. If I was booking him I’d have no idea what to do with him, and I’d probably just have him become a dancing fat guy too.

I like that they’re adhering to the continuity between Ziggler and Jericho. It makes sense to me that if they’re ever on the same show, they should have a match to settle the beef between the both of them. Jericho’s current side feud with Fandango is interesting, but the whole Batman/Bane thing going on with Jericho and Ziggler is more interesting to me. I love Dolph Ziggler and he’s in a good place right now, but I prefer the idea of him becoming a career ending behemoth. Have him start with Jericho and move on from there. I suppose they’re already doing this type of storyline with The Shield, but at the very least they can play up the personal aspect between Ziggler and Jericho. Not that I want to see Jericho go away or anything, but how many times can he go away and have triumphant comebacks? If there’s one thing the WWE needs to focus on it’s developing younger talent and establishing new legends and characters, because they’re definitely holding onto the past rather than looking forward. Things like The Shield give me hope that they’ll become more forward thinking, but the whole thing is represented in a nutshell by Jericho and Ziggler. I guess I just see a potential for a great storyline and really want to see it play out in some fashion.

That paragraph I wrote up there earlier about Tensai/Sweet T/Whatever? Pretend I copy and pasted it here. Then add in this last part where I saw it’s all a sham because tonight was the first night since he debuted as Tensai where he actually impressed me with his wrestling ability. He worked really well with Cody Rhodes and looked very strong and intimidating, despite still having his weird pug-dog style of breathing that irritates me all to hell. The guy is legitimately strong in the ring, but just can’t catch a break. I don’t even know what to feel about him anymore sometimes.

This match made me think a bunch of things. Firstly, how lame is Big E Langston’s Raw music compared to his weird and awesome NXT music? That old I’MMA SOLDIER, GONNA GET TOLD YA opening line was way better than the Generic Hip Hop Entrance Music #13 they gave him. But the other thing it made me think was how hilariously and justly buried Zack Ryder is right now. He has a huge internet following because he panders to them pretty hard, despite not really having that captivating a look, move set, or anything that special. He has charisma sometimes, but his gimmick is especially grating and the guy comes off as a loser dork more than a funny bro anymore. I have no problem with the douchebag funny bro character as a wrestler, but he’s just not bringing it anymore. At this point the only way to save him would be to have some kind of Bob Backlund style mental breakdown and become some self loathing juggernaut at the mercy to his unstoppable impulses. You could have him go through a whole existential crisis and everything.

I just want my wrestling stories to have more depth okay? Is that so wrong?

This wasn’t exactly the “main event” main event of the night, but it might as well have been. You’ve basically got 6 of the most talented guys the WWE has ever had, and put them in a 6-man Tag Team match that was so entertaining and well done it made me forget just how awful their usual 6-man tag matches are. Notable amongst all of it was just how great Undertaker looks doing his thing in the ring, because it looked like he could still pull off a tag match or so every week. I wouldn’t see him bringing it in the singles competition like he used to, but the guy is presence personified, and works better now as a symbol more than anything. Which is why I was so happy to see The Shield winning, because they ostensibly represent the future of the WWE. They’re what we want to see the WWE do, which is to move forward and create exciting, dynamic matches and stories by bringing their A-Game and wrestling competently, creatively and consistently. Some folks seem to wonder what their motive is for harping on Undertaker and to me it’s like they’re unable to understand subtext. The Shield clearly support CM Punk’s ideology, and believe that he’s the icon to which all others should aspire. For them Undertaker beating him isn’t another layer added to a growing, living legend, but another brick of oppression laid down by the old to stifle the new. To them he represents the opposite of progress, and in a way they’re right. Undertaker is old. The Shield is new. Believe in the new. Believe in The Shield.

That is unless Punk comes back as a face and gives the “I Was Wrong, But So Were You” promo I dream he’ll give, and The Shield turn their backs on him and attack him. It’s something I could see happening and if it does it’ll be great because it’d represent the evolving state of the WWE and wrestling as a whole in a state of flux. Shield being the future, Punk being the impetus for change, and either Cena/Rock/Undertaker representing the status quo or the past. It’d be nearly Dickensian, with them representing wrestling’s Past, Future and Present, all literally fighting to resolve the internal conflict within the WWE as an entity, rather than just a promotion.

But… I could be just looking too far into it.

I love me some Fandango, but I have trouble seeing them keeping his gimmick fresh. I want him to not become a new Funkasaurus so badly, and each week he shows up and still isn’t grating it another week I can stop holding my breath and exhale. The problem is the WWE doesn’t know how to handle inherently silly gimmicks like Fandango’s. They either drive them into the ground, or let them go by the wayside and turn into something like Santino. Which is about as bad a fate as you can get I think, because holy crap do I not want to see Fandango turn into another Santino. We already have one Santino, we don’t need any more.

I could also complain about Jericho doing the typical WWE face thing where he attacks Fandango for no real reason and is cheered for it, because reasons. However he made up for it by dancing with Fandango’s dancing girl, and dipping her to taunt Fandango. I gotta think that’s gotta be the second worst thing you can do to Fandango after mispronouncing his name.

Oh also hey! William Regal! Yay!

I’m not joking when I say this is the entirety of the women’s division in the WWE. It’s a damned shame. I was actually really surprised to even see Layla because I was certain she was dead or something. I’m glad they’re finally building up to the rivalry between Kaitlyn and AJ that’s been a long time coming, and hopefully they’ll use the established history between them to make an excellent story, but I have a feeling it’s just going to end up being Crazy Bitch Vs Rough N Ready Underdog-girl or whatever. I wish they had more of a women’s division because there’s so many talented women wrestlers out there who deserve to be called wrestlers and not “Divas”. Now let me undermine that empowering point entirely by posting a picture of AJ and Kaitlyn very scantily clad.

Hoo boy.
Hoo boy.

Mick Foley more or less represents the past now. His character anyway. In real life I have nothing but the utmost respect for him and think the world of him, but his character in the WWE lately is so transparent. He’s there to represent some lost sense of idealism or personal toughness and integrity, filtered through an unstoppable sense of character and can do attitude. He’s there to get cheered because his career and life has consistently been one of hardships. So if you want to get a guy over as a heel? Have him trash Foley. They did it with Punk, they’re doing it with The Ryback now. The problem is that while Foley is right with all of his talking points, The Ryback isn’t wrong either. In fact he justifiably calls out Foley by explaining how he’s just there as a symbol, and how every time he shows up it is coincidentally to promote some new DVD or project he’s working on. It’s not entirely dissimilar to the grievances Punk or Cena have had with The Rock in the past. The main difference is that Foley worked and bled a lot more to get where he is now, sacrificed a lot more, has been with the business and stayed with it far longer, and overall comes off as more genuine to me than The Rock has or ever did really. It’s a further expression of an ongoing theme that the WWE is seemingly establishing, what with the Old clashing against the New. If they were smart, they’d capitalize on that subtext and milk it out for all it’s worth.

And then John Cena ran out and AA’d The Ryback because John Cena. The Status Quo wins over above all. However, If I have to say one thing positive, I do enjoy John Cena now as an idea rather than a character, and if Raw had to end with John Cena doing things this was definitely better than him making some terrible Star Wars promo.