Raw opens tonight with a recap of the only few moments from last week’s Raw that were worth watching or even knowing about. Last week’s Raw was so incredibly boring, so devoid of entertainment and meaning, that I couldn’t force myself to sit in front of a computer and write anything about it that wasn’t a long, stream of consciousness paragraph mainly composed of swear words. The important thing from it is the fact that Brad Maddox, aka The Bad Ref who helped Punk secure his win at HIAC a few weeks ago, did it all to gain notoriety for himself. Vince came out and told him if he could beat The Ryback he’d get a $1,000,000 contract with the company. There was also more garbage about the “AJ/Cena Scandal”, but talking about that ridiculously dumb storyline makes my blood pressure too high and I start to squirt blood out of my tear ducts like those lizards. You know the ones.
As much as I love Ziggler, boy am I tired of waiting for him cash in his MITB contract. I think he’s ready to gain the spotlight as the World Heavyweight Champion already, but he’s stuck in this no-mans-land where he’s justifiably scared of cashing it in on Big Show, and busy supporting Vickie with her inane humiliation/bullying of AJ. I’ve made my opinions about Randy Orton heard on this column before. Short of gaining any sense of charisma, a new warm up taunt for his finisher, and possibly even a new finisher, I don’t see myself liking him any time soon. The one good thing from this match was seeing Alberto Del Rio try to interfere, without telegraphing his interference by letting the music guy queue up his music. If you’re trying to sneak attack somebody, why would you play your entrance theme? That being said, I hate the entrance theme diversion/sneak attack cliché, and seeing Orton buck that trend by quickly rolling up Ziggler for the win was refreshing. He may be boring to watch, but I still like to see played wrestling cliches bucked in the favor of stuff that makes sense. It was great because afterward, Ziggler and ADR started kicking the crap out of Orton.
Sadly, what happened next was pretty horrible. Kofi Kingston showed up (ugh) and defended Orton. Then for some incredibly dubious and stupid reason, Teddy Long showed up, and “on behalf of Booker T”, made them all participate in a Tag Team Match. I’ll repeat that. Teddy Long, who is NOT the GM, and has NO match making abilities, showed up to make 4 guys brawling after a match, compete in A TAG TEAM MATCH FOR NO REASON.
WHY? WHY DOES HE DO THIS? WHAT IS WRONG WITH HIM? WHEN WILL WE BE FREE? WHEN?!?! JUST GO AWAY TEDDY NOBODY LIKES YOU!
This tag team match was stupid. Its only saving grace was that ADR kicked off Kofi Kingston’s head and pinned him, and then it ended. Superfluous, pointless Tag Team Matches like this are the cornerstone of why Teddy Long is/was a terrible GM. I have a feeling though that he’s secretly some Machiavellian mastermind and is the one who manipulates all of WWE’s GM’s into acting out his bidding without even knowing it consciously. He’s got this incredible Svengali-esque vice grip on the managerial decisions made in the WWE, because everybody acts in the same stupid way he does/did. If they came out next week and announced that Teddy was THE ONE TRUE GM, ALL ALONG I’d bury my head in my hands and sob into them, while simultaneously owing myself a Coke because I was right. I’d be so full of mixed emotions.
After that match is another segment in what has to the the stupidest storyline in recent memory. Of course I’m talking about the “AJ/Cena Scandal”. Firstly, it’s dumb because both of those characters are single, so they can’t really have “an affair”. Secondly people in the WWE have “affairs” ALL THE TIME, and it’s never been a big deal. Ever. If they wanted me to hate Vickie Guerrero, this is how to do it. Her shrieky nature isn’t nearly as offensive to me as her hypocritical, stupid logic, and not in a good way where you’re supposed to hate her character. It’s the difference between a well written work that’s meant to draw heel heat from the crowd, and poorly written bulls**t.
Vickie presents AJ with some potentially falsified, but seemingly genuine voice messages of AJ talking in a way that sounds amorous and describing her lust for somebody who may or may not be John Cena. The only message that involved Cena in any way was vague enough to be about something else, but regardless of how incriminating Vickie’s evidence is, I find it impossible to care. Mostly, I don’t want it to be true because the thought of AJ, my beautiful goddess and future wife, being with John Cena makes my stomach turn.
Last week on Smackdown Big Show attacked Sheamus and William Regal in a pub. You know, because they’re British/Irish and like drinkin’! He showed up and KO Punched/WMD’d them, and now William Regal has beef with Big Show. It was a silly segment, but I get it. Big Show wants to get the jump on Sheamus because he gave it his all and barely beat Sheamus at HIAC weeks ago. Rightfully, he should be able to beat everybody in 2 seconds with his KO Punch, but I can buy that they want to build it up to be more devastating than it truly is. The confusing thing is seeing William Regal suddenly being portrayed as a good guy, since he’s been a heel for as long as I can remember. If it helps portray Big Show as an unstoppable mean giant, then I’m all for it though. It was no surprise to see Show demolish Regal, and Sheamus showing up to defend him after the match. Seeing the bright red welts on Regal’s chest from Big Show’s vicious chops did a good job of showing us just how deadly Show can be in the ring, and this was a good way to build up the rematch between Sheamus and Show for Survivor Series.
I’ve got to be honest, I didn’t pay much attention to this match because I was too distracted by Eve. She was at ringside giving commentary, and wearing a very low cut, see through blouse, and holy god… Seeing all of the Divas today makes me miss the sleazy but awesome bikini/rip my top off/strip matches from the Attitude Era. I was glad to see Kaitlyn win, because she’s gorgeous. I want to say they had a good match, but it’s like my memory has been wiped and replaced with pictures of Eve’s cleavage.
Seeing Jerry Lawler come back was pretty great, but filled me with mixed emotions. As glad as I am to see him back and in good health, I’m going to miss Good Ol’ JR’s commentary and banter with Michael Cole. Lawler is pretty extraordinarily bad at commentary, and occasional funny quip aside, doesn’t really contribute anything of value. He especially pales in comparison to JBL, who actually speaks with facts, interesting opinions, and is generally great at being a heel commentator. I was glad to see him doing well though, but I was even more glad by CM Punk interrupting his segment, and pulling off his first truly heel-ish dick move. Punk has been doing very well at being a bad guy, despite never really doing anything wrong, and continually making perfect sense all the time. Him interrupting Lawler’s speech was outrageously douchetastic, and following it up with Paul Heyman’s mock heart attack was so cruelly tasteless it bordered on the kind of edgy, boundary pushing stuff they did in the Attitude Era. Some viewers may have been offended, but good. They should be, because he’s a bad guy. He should be legitimately hate able. To this day, this is the ONLY thing I can think of that Punk has done that makes him deserving of the people’s ire. I loved it.
Listen, I applaud the WWE’s successful attempt to reinvigorate their once fledgling Tag Team Division. It’s a noble thing, buy boy am I tired of seeing the same 6 teams fight each other over and over. Seeing Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel as a tag team was the only refreshing thing, and if the Tag Titles had to be dropped from Team Hell No, I’d prefer it be to them. I think they could have some great tag team matches with The Usos, or even The Primetime Players, ala a Hardy/Dudley Boyz sort of thing. If they want us to care about the Tag Titles so badly, raise the stakes beyond “Pack more tag teams in 8-Man tag matches”. Let’s get some variety in the tag division. Or just have them do things other than the rote, by-the-numbers build to hot tags that they seem to be stuck in a rut doing. Let’s see tag team finishers, spots that build on each other, and finishes that don’t revolve around one stunned partner getting a hot tag and turning the tides. Tag team matches should be the easiest thing in the world to make exciting and interesting, but still they suffer from repetition. Bring in some jobber tag teams. What happened to those weird groups of jobber The Ryback Ryback’d? Bring them back and have Rhodes Scholars destroy them again. Do something! Anything! I shouldn’t be this bored by tag team matches!
I like The Miz, I think he has great charisma, and he’s slowly improving his abilities in the ring. I’m pretty happy to see him turning face, and the thought of him being cheered by audiences who actually do think he’s awesome fills my heart with joy. I can see him as honestly being one of the few heels who can successfully transition into a face, and actually make it work better. Usually it’s the other way around, and heels are almost always more fun, but The Miz has so much charisma I can see him in the ring, or cutting promos with such enthusiasm, swagger and confidence that he’d sway anybody who had differing opinions about him. Maybe I’m just a Mizfit, but I like the guy. Let’s see him get pushed again, and take back his Intercontinental Title from stupid Kofi Kingston. Please.
I want R-Truth to be funny again. His insanity has been downplayed down to the point where he’s not entertaining anymore, and his lack of in ring dynamism is far more apparent. Charisma, humor, and the ability to cut entertaining promos can take you a long way in terms of masking your wrestling ability, or lack thereof. Just take a look at The Rock. (Oh snap! I went there!)
The inverse problem happens with Tensai, who I’ve hated looking at for the last 13 years, no matter what stupid clothing they put him in and try to tell me he’s somebody different. Thusly, this match had almost nothing to hold my interest other than Antonio Cesaro giving commentary at ringside. More Antonio Cesaro, less Tensai please.
All throughout this match, I was hoping that somehow, someway, Brad Maddox would win. I don’t understand why everybody seems to hate him so much, because his speech (aside from being the only entertaining thing on last week’s Raw) made so much sense and was so meaningful and real. Of course nobody gave a shit about what he was saying, and because Vince McMahon came out and offered him a $1,000,000 we’re supposed to cheer for The Ryback to kill him rather than for a resourceful, well spoken talent to defy the odds and become a new 1-2-3 Kid. The ambulance showing up was good overkill for the match though, and I kept hoping for CM Punk to show up and interfere in some way to pay back Maddox for his help at HIAC. Alas my wishes didn’t come true, and he was power bombed to death by The Ryback.
Sometimes two guys are pitted in a match against each other for no reason other than to have them on the show, and as far as that goes, I’m okay with this particular pairing. I mean, I hate seeing Sheamus on my TV, and seeing him savagely destroy a black man doesn’t really surprise me, but I see it as more of a good thing for Otunga. I’ve probably said before that Otunga is a great background character, and a mediocre wrestler at best, but darn it if I still don’t wanna see him succeed. If he’s gonna be in the spotlight to lose to the A-talent, I’m okay with that. I don’t necessarily think he’s ready for a push, but If he started doing a bunch of lawyer related moves to complement his current finisher (The Verdict), I’d be pretty happy. Perhaps a submission called Eminent Domain? A new signature called The Subpeona? The Filibuster? C’mon, The Filibuster! That’s perfect! I can come up with these all day.
Segments like this are why I really really love Team Hell No, and are proof positive as to the greatness of Kane and Daniel Bryan’s comedic timing. Seeing Daniel Bryan act like an overly attached, jealous girlfriend was pretty funny, and the homosexual subtext that’s been played up between the two is magnificent. I know that generally, all wrestling has a homosexual subtext, but bare with me alright? There’s a difference. A few weeks ago Kane slapped Daniel Bryan on the ass before his match, and this week we see Daniel Bryan jealous. You could argue it’s just a weirdly co-dependent Bro-lationship taken to childish extremes, but I think the evidence is there. Unfortunately they can’t just come out and say HEY DANIEL BRYAN AND KANE ARE GAY FOR EACH OTHER, because about 2/3 of the audience would start hating them and stop buying their merchandise. Plus then you’d have a strange pyrokinetic demonic hell-rapist character who is also GAY, and that’d be like catnip for stupid, pointless controversy. If Too Much couldn’t work as a gay tag team 13 years ago, back when Kane was taken more seriously as a pyrokinetic demonic straight hell-rapist, it could never work now.
This match, while entertaining, was worth it mostly for its finish. Along with Miz showcasing some middling ability in-ring as part
of his new face push, we got the great jealous grumbling of Daniel Bryan at ringside throughout the whole thing. He did a great job of pouting while Kane and Miz sufficiently took down Rhodes Scholars, until their eventual win. At the end, Daniel Bryan tried to take the spotlight of the win away from The Miz, by raising Kane’s hand. They then took turns raising Kane’s hand angrily, both yelling at each other. Kane eventually refused to have his hands raised by either of them, until they were all shouting at each other. What made this end cap to the match work for me is that it shows Daniel Bryan and Kane are always on the edge of “breaking up”, and that makes their tag team relationship suspenseful. Nearly every week I find myself hoping they don’t break up, and whenever they do, it’s sure to be heartbreaking. Daniel Bryan has been hurt so many times, losing Kane is the last thing he needs.
While I really dislike John Cena, I have to admit he and Punk bring the best out of each other. Even though they’ve wrestled each other a million times now, their matches are never boring or by the numbers. Their ability to complement each other’s move sets, and make simple dramatic tension in a match is pretty unparalleled in the WWE right now. Their interplay in the ring just works, and as much as I complain about Punk having beaten Cena a million times, tonight’s finale reminded me just why they’ve had him beat Cena a million times. The fact that Cena cleanly beat CM Punk also added some long due suspense to Punk’s title reign, which next week will reach that illustrious mark of 365 days. For the past month or so, Punk has seemed pretty untouchable. Unlike many other fans, I had no doubt that Punk would find a way to beat The Ryback, simply because I don’t think The Ryback is ready to be champion yet. I don’t wanna say his current main eventer status is unwarranted, but something about his slow build seemed to accelerate unnaturally, and seems superficial to me.
With Cena winning the match though, we got to a semi-repeat from last week’s Raw, with The Ryback and Cena locking eyes. It stands to reason, if nothing can satiate The Ryback’s hunger, Super-Cena definitely should suffice. The both of them standing there, holding onto Punk’s WWE Championship and doing a tiny Tug-Of-War with it was neat. It got even better when Punk saw this, climbed up on the apron and pathetically whined for his belt to be returned to him, making sad faces the whole time.
Raw ending on CM Punk’s weak and melancholy cries for his belt was funny, and really makes me want to see Punk successfully defend his belt at Survivor Series to carry his championship to a full year. Until then, I guess we’ll just have to ponder what poor fate Brad Maddox will encounter in The Underworld.
RIP Brad Maddox. You will most likely not be missed.