Raw opens tonight with a rather well-edited real life memorial to William Moody, AKA Paul Beater, who unfortunately passed away last week. Seeing a bunch of old WWE clips of him acting all goofy and creepy stirred up a lot of fond memories. I distinctly remember him being one of the most engaging manager characters of them all, and was probably my favorite manager character of all time, second to Jimmy Hart. His dedication was followed by Undertaker taking a meaningful pose of respect and grievance in front of the urn that Paul Bearer always carried, while a memorial card for him flashed on the titan-tron. Then a brilliant, terrible thing happened, as CM Punk interrupted it.
I know this pissed off a lot of people, but it’s something wrestling does best. I love it when they purposely mix real life events with kayfabe feuds like this, and use it to build heat. Making CM Punk the most disrespectful, terrible and offensive man is pretty great, and goes a long way towards making him an actual bad guy. On top of that, it gives a better reason and some meaning behind the match Punk and Taker will be having at Wrestlemania.
One of the best things I like about The Shield, is that they beat everyone they oppose, not by cheating, but by just being better than their opponents. Consistently they just isolate the weaknesses of their opponents, exploit them, and use their numbers smartly to gain the advantage. While I was interested in seeing how someone like Seth Rollins would go up against someone like Big Show on his own tonight, Show ruined it for himself by unnecessarily attacking the other two members of The Shield. They defended themselves, then retaliated after the match to show superiority and dominance. It’s the sort of thing that consistently spells them out to be a heavy contender to be reckoned with. I have no doubt that separate they wouldn’t be as effective (Ambrose aside), so I’m still enjoying them as a team. Whenever they do end up splitting up, or even if they just start wrestling more individually, I’ll be looking forward to see how or if their team dynamic changes. I think the only thing that will stop The Shield is themselves, and it’s a good old tried and true angle to run for factions. Until then, watching them triple power bomb giant dudes is good enough for me.
Man, I’m not sure exactly when it happened, because it happened so gradually, but Daniel Bryan really has gone into full Hobo-Beard mode. I still argue he doesn’t have a goat face, because goats don’t have massive beards that scraggly and awful, but something does need to be said to the guy. I’m sure he’s well aware how horrid it is, but good lord there IS a handsome man underneath there. I’m a pretty firm believer that you should only have a beard that huge and swarthy if you’re already an ugly bastard, a fat man, a biker, or a wizard. There’s a lumberjack clause is there too, but that’s kind of antiquated profession these days isn’t it? I’m actually not certain at all, I just imagine giant machines cut down all the trees now, but that’s neither here nor there. The best thing about this match is how damn good it was. People forget that despite all the gimmickry, both of these guys are excellent goddamned wrestlers, and Daniel Bryan is singlehandedly probably one of the best in the world. It was good to see Dolph Ziegler pull over a win and manage to still make Bryan look strong. It’s the kind of fast faced match that works really well for tv. I wish they had more like it.
So here’s the best thing about this, does anyone actually want to see Tensai wrestle around anymore anywhere? I’m glad he’s wearing pants and a singlet now, but it doesn’t make him not horrible and not boring. I can’t get past how big and boring he is. Now I know i lament the lack of wrestling on this wrestling show, but comedy bits and whatnot, as long as they’re funny, I really have no problem with. The issue is often they’re not funny, and for now, Fandango coming out and refusing to wrestle stupid people (kofi, tensai, etc) because they don’t pronounce his name properly, entertains me all to hell. Plus Fandango coming out and flat out saying how Naomi is better than the stupid team she’s currently affiliated with, and the thought of her potentially joining Fandango’s crew of sexy flamenco dancers sounds great to me. Plus for the first time in years, Jerry Lawler really made me laugh by cursing out Tensai for ruining our chance to see Fandango wrestle.
Someone somewhere noticed that there wasn’t really a tag team division anymore, and realized they ought to reassemble Team Rhodes Scholars quickly. Having them come out and do a faux-intellectual version of the New Age Outlaw’s old introductory speech was actually pretty funny, mostly because Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow are still so likable. Those guys really do ooze class and charm. I have a hard time accepting them as bad guys at all, because they’ve never even done anything wrong. They’re only booed because other crowds boo them, and it feeds on an infinite loop. I’m just hoping all of this isn’t building to some stupid angle where the New Age Outlaws become the tag team champions again, because man does that devalue the Tag Titles even more. It’s more or less the same argument made for why The Rock shouldn’t be champion, but it goes double for NAO.
The problem with this too, is that Brock Lesnar came out and attacked them, you know because we need to be reminded of Brock Lesnar. I get they need to have him attack the NAO, and to have him accept their challenge, because this is what happens with every time Triple H and Brock Lesnar show up. Rather than settle everything, all threats, all challenges, etc with one promo between the two of them, they keep interacting on Raw by making long protracted speeches or segments. It’s almost like they’re using WWE as their own personal social media service because they’re both too shy to just talk things out like adults. The only thing I’m glad to hear is that Brock Lesnar will be making the stipulations of the match, and we can only hope it’ll be that Triple H has to quit forever for real or something. It doesn’t matter though, he’ll always find some way to come back and ruin everything. Let’s just let this be the end of Brock/Triple H forever, okay?
I guess if we have to have Kofi Kingston matches, they might as well be short non-matches like he’s been having recently. If you’re honestly complaining about not seeing enough Kofi Kingston lately, there’s something f***ing wrong with you.
Hey The Bellas are back! Let’s get first things first out-of-the-way, HOLY CRAP DID THEY BOTH GET TIT JOBS WHAT HAPPENED OH MY GOD HOLY F*** JESUS THEY LOOK AMAZING. I’m gonna wonder if they’re actually back or not, but until then let’s just marvel at them and hope they come back as valets only. They could never wrestle but I sure did love seeing them in skin-tight plastic outfits, so if they’re in some super team with Rhodes Scholars I’m down with that.
Here’s the sad thing, I would totally mark out if somehow, someway Heath Slater beat The Ryback. I understand they’re building up the feud between Mark Henry and The Ryback, ostensibly over the title of the worlds strongest man, or something to that effect. Just have them both do dueling feats of strength each week, and one up each other. The Ryback lifts two guys, Mark Henry lifts two guys, The Ryback eats and devours Kofi Kingston, Mark Henry crushes Great Khali into a little ball of misery. That way everyone would win, and it’d end in a great match between two strong guys just beating the crap out of each other! Plus Khali and Kofi would be dead! WIN/WIN!
First and foremost, this was a pretty great match. Both of these guys are damned amazing in the ring, and watching them go at it was entertaining. My problem with this match is it only reinforces two ideas that are destroying the WWE’s mid-card, which is #1, that the World Heavyweight Championship is the new Intercontinental Championship, and that the IC title and the US title now both mean jack squat. When you have your mid-card champions just lose, all of the time, only win when they defend, and generally get beaten by a higher “class” of wrestler, (not just including the Invincible White Guys Cena, Sheamus, Orton et al), it just makes their title look meaningless. This isn’t me complaining about Cesaro losing, it’s about him losing making that title appear worthless. Cesaro can lose for sure, but have it lead into someone taking the belt from him, or have him get cheated or anything other than what they’re doing right now. If they were smart, they’d consolidate the WHC and the WWE belts, make the Intercontinental belt mean something again, and retire the US title. But they won’t, so whatever.
I feel like I should like this match more. I like Rhodes Scholars but sometimes their offense is just lacking. They’re wonderful on the mic, and I love their characters, but they’re not incredibly dynamic in the ring, and when you put them up against a terrible super-team like Orton and Sheamus the whole thing becomes a foregone conclusion to begin with. Maybe I just find Orton so boring that he ends up infecting the entire match with his boringness, and ruins the whole thing? I don’t know, I sure do love his pose though. Me and my friends make a point of doing it all the time. I’m hoping it’ll become the next fad like Planking. You walk up to your friend, you smack his hat off his head, then pose like Orton. It’s pretty great, but you better make sure you do it to a friend, or else you’ll get your ass beat half to death.
I love Jericho, I just wish he’d do something new with his hair. He keeps trying to spike it up or whatever it is that he does, and it just looks terrible. Dude, we all know you’re going bald, just kinda wet it down like how it gets after he sweats for a while. The problem with segments like this is they’re just big commercials for stupid things, and the stupid thing this time is The Miz’s new movie. Then you’ve got Wade Barrett coming out, and being NO NO NO YOU OYL OTTA KNOW OYM THE REAL SUPER MOOVEE STAH ERE! Which I suppose all things considered, is preferable to just some glad-handing nonsense about movies and hey here’s a clip. At least they’re arguing about it. I think the idea of wrestlers getting into arguments about whose the biggest movie star is pretty stupid, but it’s stupid in that good way that only wrestling can be.
I know this clip is about Miz VS Jericho but I just love it every time Wade Barrett talks, and would rather watch him talk about being awesome, and rejecting scripts and being british. I think out of everyone in the WWE, he’s the one i’d most like to have a beer with. Plus the segment was so bad that even Michael Cole said so. So that’s pretty telling.
Swagger’s just beating up any and all Mexican people now. This makes me laugh for all the wrong (right?) reasons? I’m loving this gimmick, I’m loving the feud that surrounds it, and I’m loving hating Zeb Colter and Swagger. They even got me to cheer to Sin CARE-UH! Which is saying a lot. Zeb Colter is great because he’s getting people to hate and boo racism, which for WWE audiences is damned progressive. Let’s continue this happening please?
There’s been a subplot the entire night throughout the show, showing Kane very upset about CM Punk’s disrespectful turn against Taker and Paul Bearer at the beginning of the show. It was actually pretty moving and managed to show Kane inject some pathos into his mourning, both kayfabe and shoot of the late Paul Bearer. The entire idea behind the match being No DQ was pretty great too, and was an excellent match between the two, because it allowed for this:
If there was any one person whose music could and should actually distract you during a match it’s The Undertaker’s. The match between Kane and Punk just goes to show how great they both are, and ended with a really awesome confrontation between Punk and Taker, where Punk managed to pull off that wonderful mix of disrespectful mock taunting he always does, and the whole thing looked like it really did piss Undertaker off. Initially I was worried their WM match wouldn’t have any real stakes, but thanks to Punk yet again, it does. I fully expect Undertaker to win, but if they REALLY want to get Punk over as a HATED heel, they’ll have him end the streak. Don’t make it a triumphant battle sort of thing, have it be a super cheap, super sh***y thing where Punk gets the win through some terrible technicality. It’ll piss everyone in the world off but me.
For the first time in a while, I feel like tonight’s Raw wasn’t just an assembled collection of scenes with no rhyme or reason. Somehow someway, they turned a tragic thing like Paul Bearer’s death into a viable storytelling mechanic, and had a good yarn spun throughout the show, ending with a finale that wrapped up the whole thing. Sure there were a few stupid moments in the middle, but if Raw was more like this, it’d be just a bit easier to defend why I watch the damn thing. I also didn’t even realize until it was pointed out on twitter, that John Cena wasn’t on the entire show. Maybe that also has something to do with it.