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.
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.
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.
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.
Oh AJ. You’re wonderful. Just wonderful.