Tag Archives: Paul Heyman

WWE Monday Night Raw Recap & Review 10/15/12

Tonight’s Raw opens up with Big Show walking down into the ring, and giving a promo. He basically just comes out and says how shitty and mean Sheamus has been to him for the last few weeks or so, but shows a video from Smackdown. In the video, Sheamus goes to Brogue Kick Big Show, but because Sheamus is dumb, and Big Show is the f–king BIG SHOW, he just catches Sheamus’ stupid bicycle kick and flips him out of the ring violently. Then we cut back and Big Show goes on to let us all know how stupid it is of Sheamus to try to bully a 7′ tall, 500lb man who can knock you out with a single punch. Because that’s really all that’s happening here. Sheamus is a bully, through and through. The dude just does whatever he wants,to whoever he wants, with no sense of what’s right or wrong, and because he’s “cool” the average WWE fan just laughs off his actions, no matter how despicable, racist, or objectively terrible they are. So when It comes down to it, am I looking forward to Big Show knocking his stupid ginger head off his albino shoulders? Yes. Absolutely. I have no idea why Big Show is even supposed to be the bad guy in this, other than he hit John Cena once. I guess unless you’re a retired wrestler turned shitty movie star, hitting John Cena is an unforgivable, terrible offense that makes you worse than Hitler.

Eventually somehow Big Show’s whole spiel turned into him talking about his original WHC title run, which lasted only seconds until Daniel Bryan cashed in his MITB case to take the title from him. This in turn got spun around into a “redeeming” rematch between the two, and led to Daniel Bryan facing Big Show in a match.

I love both of these guys, but this is in my opinion, the one kind of match Daniel Bryan doesn’t excel at. Daniel Bryan does best in matches that have him going one on one with another person who can sell his more technical moves, or can match his technical prowess on the mat. His entire thing is about beating guys by wearing them down and slapping a submission on them, which generally works really well, but with bigger guys it’s not always the best. That’s not to say the match was bad, but compare it to say, CM Punk, and it’s a different story. CM Punk is always at his best when he’s up against a big, unstoppable force sort of wrestler. Your John Cenas, your Mark Henrys, or your Samoa Joes, if you were to go back into ROH territory. Daniel Bryan on the other hand, always seemed overwhelmed when taking on bigger guys, but perhaps that’s to his credit. All I’m saying is when Big Show slammed Daniel Bryan to the ground and pinned him for the win, I wasn’t shocked.

It was pretty nice to see Kane come out to defend his Tag Team partner, in a twisted show of affection between team mates. Of course, Big Show just held up his fist and screamed at Kane, which made him back off until Show left. I don’t blame him, because the dude could probably just hold up his hand and scream at a f–king grizzly bear and it would run away shitting itself in fear.

After the break we’re in the ring with Paul Heyman, who is there with the WWE title, and a poster board with a drape over it. He takes his time to announce CM Punk, and remind us he has held the title for 330 consecutive days, (a feat that merits respect, I still don’t understand how you cannot respect this, it’s ridiculous) and that he’s making his decision for his opponent at Hell In A Cell. CM Punk comes out and teases us for minutes, until finally revealing that he needs more time to make his decision. He’s really trying to milk for heel heat here, and as Vince McMahon promised last week, if Punk didn’t make up his mind, he would for him. So Vince shows up, and tells Punk that TONIGHT, that he will pick his opponent. Just, you know, not right now. It’ll be at the end of the show. For reasons.

The main and fatal flaw with this entire match, is that somehow this one is the match deemed necessary for Punk to FINALLY gain respect and be considered “one of the best”. Despite almost singlehandedly making the WWE relevant again with a single promo last year, or his laundry list of achievements in all of professional wrestling, including multiple championships and a current record holding reign. For some reason, everything he’s done to earn our respect and admiration of all last year, is wiped away because he clotheslined The Rock. It’s funny, because as much as I love The Rock, everything he does now for the WWE just hurts it. What value does he add by defeating John Cena? What value does he add by showing up randomly, promising a bunch of shit, and then disappearing again? And most importantly, what value does he add by making another attempt at becoming the WWE champion again? Sometimes you gotta know when to hang it up dude. You WERE The Great One,now let it go.

First and foremost, CM Punk is by definition of being the WWE Champion, the best in the world, so there’s that. Secondly, there’s this quote from JR tonight, that really tells it all.

“I think CM Punk has done an amazing job of being a WWE Champion. My point has always been, if wants to be considered in the same breath as the Undertakers, The Triple Hs, The Austins, The Rocks, The Shawn Michaels, then… You… you gotta do… you gotta do a Hell In A Cell in some point of your career.”

I put emphasis on the stutter in that quote, because JR is basically saying that to be considered a WWE legend, in line with some of their all time greats, unless you’ve done a Hell In A Cell match, that EVERYTHING ELSE you’ve done doesn’t count. Somehow the allure of a HIAC match brings with it magical greatness that takes you to a new echelon of superiority. How this logic works in JR’s mind baffles me, and I’m convinced it was a line he was fed through his earpiece to say, because it sounds exactly like the inane bullshit the writers come up with to justify a match, or more likely, to justify why a character who’s really never done anything that was actually wrong, as a bad guy. If you want us to hate CM Punk, I dunno, have him do mean, awful things that don’t make sense, and bully people needlessly. Oh wait, that’s Sheamus, and we’re supposed to love him. Goddammit.

They did us a favor this week, and skipped Funkasaurus’ 10 minute dance intro and got right to the match. Lately I’ve noticed Alberto Del Rio hasn’t been arriving in his cars anymore either, which could only mean one of two things. 1.) He’s been pretty drastically affected by his current pseudo rivalry with Randy Orton, and has filtered thousands and thousands of dollars into researching some kind of apparatus to predict when an RKO is coming. Because they always arrive OUT OF NOWHERE.

2.) WWE is tired of renting luxury cars.

So you know, it’s probably 2. Regardless, defeating Funkasaurus isn’t that big of a deal. You just gotta hit him in any of his major joints and the dude goes down like a gimped horse. Slap his arm into the Cross-Armbreaker, and he’ll tap almost instantly. For such a big guy he has a very small tolerance for pain. Alberto Del Rio winning is NOT surprising, to say the least.

Backstage we see CM Punk and Paul Heyman having lovers quarrels. Or arguing about Vince McMahon. I say should point out that it’s not technically a lover’s quarrel, because Punk doesn’t seem to reciprocate the unabashed, adoring love that Heyman has for Punk. Heyman is friend-zoned. Hardcore. Poor Heyman.

As much as I’m loving the newly reinvigorated tag team division, I’m still not a fan of these teams that consist of 2 previously mostly singles only wrestlers becoming a team. You can’t often hit gold like they have with Team Hell No, and Team CoBro (ugh) just doesn’t cut it. Apparently someone in creative agrees with me, because The Primetime Players pretty much put the smack down on them hard, and won within minutes. I like The Primetime Players, and I think they could use some more segments, or time to make more promos. I don’t think they get enough character exposure, as opposed to their wrestling time. I think we see the right amount of time for them in the ring, to keep them relevant. Let’s just give them a skit, or a promo here and there, and it’ll all be good.

This new 3-Man Band of Heath Slater, Jinder Mahal, and Drew Mcintyre coming out to stomp on Zack Ryder’s corpse and play air guitar to their theme music was pretty hilarious. They’ve managed to take 3 guys (well 2) who deserve more air time, and successfully make them a stable that seem to exist solely to beat up dumb guys, and play air guitar. How you can not love that, I don’t understand.

Awesome.

Suddenly we’re privy to the ear-splitting screech of Vickie Guerrero, who introduces Dolph Ziggler in her typically shrewish way. A fun note, I just recently attended a taping of Smackdown, and can dutifully confirm that people HATE Vickie Guerrero more than every other heel combined. The outpour of boos for her were utterly deafening, and during her entire time speaking you could not hear a single word spoken. If they were ever gonna try to turn her face, I have no idea why, but if they were, it’d be impossible. She could go up there and promise free WWE merchandise for life for everyone in attendance if they just stayed quiet, and it’d never, ever happen.

Anyhow, Ziggler says some stuff about how hard he’s worked for his MITB contract. How he’s jealous that The Ryback gets all the talk these days when comparatively, Ziggler has worked far harder than The Ryback to get contendership recognition. David Otunga then comes out, and spouts about his mental attenuation along with physical fitness. He says he’s worthy of a title shot, and this is what leads to their fatal flaw. Their fatal flaw here is saying The Ryback’s name enough times to awaken him from his hibernation, thus unleashing his insatiable hunger. Along with The Ryback, they’ve gotten notice of AJ, who brings The Ryback in tow with her, and schedules a triple threat match between the three of them right then and there.

While watching this match, my friend Vera pointed out something I had never noticed before about The Ryback. Namely, his teeth are totally busted. For a dude who talks a lot about being fed, the guy needs dental work. Maybe that’s why he’s always hungry? Perhaps it’s hard for him to really get anything down when he’s nursing such a terrible dental issue? Maybe Tressa is right about him really just being a big baby, and he’s just teething. Like he’s literally just a giant baby transplanted into a huge man-body. It makes sense when you think about it. The marching, the tantrums, the heavy breathing, the teething, the constant crying for food… I’m just saying, there’s been weirder storylines in WWE history.

Anyhow, The Ryback Ryback’s both Ziggler and Otunga. After Ziggler ditches Otunga and runs away, The Ryback devours Otunga’s corpse messily, and we all rejoice.

Backstage, Paul Heyman is trying to butter up Vince McMahon in CM Punk’s favor, and puts for a challenge in Punk’s name. He pitches a rematch between Vince and Punk, with the stipulation being if Punk wins, he gets to choose his opponent. Vince then makes the match with Heyman, to Heyman’s disarray, and then proudly claims to love himself. No really. He does.

Afterward, we see AJ walking by, and is interviewed by Matt Stryker about something or other. Stryker makes the foolish mistake of even saying the word “crazy” around AJ, and she suddenly schedules him to be in a match as punishment. Punishment for ostensibly being a person who was alive around her at that time, I suppose. AJ, why is your character so fragmented? Why are you sometimes good, sometimes bad? It doesn’t come off as unpredictable, unstable, or edgy like your writers want us to think, it just comes off as inconsistent and shitty. For somebody who used to have the deepest, most intricate and multifaceted character in WWE, you sure have gone a long way down from those heights.

…God I still love you though.

I really can’t say enough good things about Antonio Cesaro. The dude is shoot strong enough to lift a guy as heavy as the Funkasaurus, and makes is look easy. On top of that, he’s incredibly dominant in ring, and has an excellent signature move where he just throws a guy almost 10 feet up into the air, and then just uppercuts their goddamned head off.

Just imagine Justin Gabriel in the place of Tyson Kidd there. It’s just as amazing.

 

So when Antonio Cesaro comes out, pumps his fists, and then talks about how much ass he can kick in five languages, he tends to get my respect. His win over Justin Gabriel was pretty definitive, and just adds more luster to his current prestige.

Apparently Matt Stryker found it necessary to get into his full wrestling gear, just to grab a mic and beg Kane for mercy. He emphasizes how unnecessary it is for Kane to even face him, and more or less says he’s a non-threat. He pleads with Kane, who then spreads his arms in embrace. Stryker then accepts Kane ostensible proposal to hug it out, and they proceed to hug. It lasts for a minute, then Kane ends up choke slamming him to death any way. The brilliant part was his little post-match promo, where he lays down with the dying Matt Stryker, and mocks him by putting the mic in front of his mouth, before declaring himself to be the Tag Team Champions.

Somewhere, Daniel Bryan is shouting angrily and stomping. Dr. Shelby needs to come back and help these guys one last time.

Okay, I love The Miz. Honest, I do. I think he’s a perfectly competent wrestler, and great on the mic. I love his douchebag smarminess, and his sense of self entitlement that he brings with him. I think he makes a great heel character, and an even better commentator. However, I cannot STAND Miz TV. Even more so now, because he’s feuding with Kofi Kingston, who might as well be poison for my attention span. The two of these together, honestly I had no interest in watching, and still have none. I can’t tell you what actually happened, but I’ll guess they shit talked each other, and then promoted their stupid match on Main Event for the Intercontinental title. I swear if Kofi Kingston wins that title, I’ll just… I’ll just die inside. I will.

I like Wade Barrett. I hate Sheamus. I wanted Wade Barrett to crush Sheamus in this match, but of course that didn’t happen. I have difficulty watching any matches with Sheamus in them now, because I just want to see him get beaten until all of his skin is a deep dark black and blue. When Big Show showed up with a chair, I nearly jumped for joy at the prospect of a Sheamus beat down at the hands of Big Show and Barrett. But then Big Show just sat there on the chair, watching them both from a distance. Wade Barrett batted around Sheamus for a few minutes, briefly giving me hope that we’d see Sheamus lose a shameful defeat. Those hopes were dashed when Big Show interfered in the most lame way possible, and just held down the top rope, making Sheamus fall out of the ring when he was whipped into the ropes. That resulted in a DQ win for Sheamus, and Big Show walking out of the place like he was somehow proud of that decision. Lame.

Backstage Vince McMahon is on the phone, and hangs up to have a meeting with John Cena. Cena then says some more bullshit about never giving up, and ignoring doctors orders. I’m not sure, because I really just tune him out now. It’s the only way to stay sane.

I’m not gonna lie, I spent the most of this match trying to look at Layla’s boobs. I kept imagining how big they really were, because of the nature of the wrestling bras/tank-tops they wear. I then snapped back to reality when I realized that the match itself wasn’t half bad. I mean, not half bad for WWE standards anyway. The women’s division is one place that Impact Wrestling has them beat, hands down. Why the WWE doesn’t just blatantly copy them I don’t understand. Regardless, they seem to be re-using the old Foot-On-The-Ropes, Bad-Referee-Call thing they did for CM Punk and John Cena a few weeks ago. There’s not much a difference there, except that instead of get all righteously angry like CM Punk did, Layla just sat there and cried about it. I like your boobs Layla, give me a reason to respect them. Stand up for yourself. If Eve cheated, call her on it. Until then, you’re not above ogling.

Backstage, Daniel Bryan and Kane are talking about their respective relationship woes. After some remarks are traded about what they both did or didn’t find funny, Daniel Bryan says that next week Kane should fight Big Show. He then declares himself the Tag Team Champions.

He then cut off his ear and declared himself the new Vincent Van Gogh.

Cut to Vince McMahon talking to The Ryback, talking him up as the toughest SOB in the biz. The Ryback just stands there breathing heavily, until Vince asks him what his response is to everything said about. The Ryback replies with 3 obvious words: “Feed. Me. Punk.”

I don’t have anything against Primo and Epico really. Their gimmick doesn’t particularly grab my attention, but they’re definitely not immediately aggravating unlike certain other WWE Superstars. When compared to the greatness that is Rhodes Scholars however, they pale in comparison. Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes pretty much annihilate them, using more tags throughout this match than almost all the other tag team matches in recent memory put together. I’d dare to say they use this aspect of the tag team rules the most effectively I’ve ever seen. They work together really cohesively, and end up defeating Primo and Epico resoundly, ending with the perfect finishing taunt of the assisted cartwheel.

Perfect.

So this is a grudge match thing now? Between Miz and Kofi? And we’re supposed to believe that somehow Kofi is supposed to better than Miz? All I saw was a big pile of boring, with The Miz struggling to work with that pile he was given. I have two different kinds of hate for wrestlers in the WWE, and I’ll clarify it for you.

There’s Sheamus hate: Where a wrestler’s actual in-ring ability is overlooked or otherwise rendered obsolete or negated by how terrible a character he has. See: Tensai.

And then there’s Kofi Kingston hate: Where a wrestlers in ring ability is non-existent, yet somehow still gets face heat, and is inexplicably popular despite being unwatchably boring in the ring and on the mic. See: Randy Orton.

Which do I hate more? I honestly can’t decide. All I know is I hate them both. So when Kofi Kingston won the match, all I can say is that I’m not looking forward to ignoring the Intercontinental Champion entirely. Hopefully Miz will retain, or somebody worth half  a damn will take it from Kingston.

After that shitfest, we come back from the break to Vince McMahon preparing the contract signing to decide Punk’s opponent at HIAC. The Ryback enters, along with John Cena. They all hurf durf around for 5 or so minutes. John Cena gets especially hurfy and extra durfy, and makes sure to say something about never giving up. Punk continues his streak of saying perfectly reasonable things, and getting booed for them. Calling Vince McMahon and John Cena egomaniacs, is by NO MEANS uncalled for, and is probably the most accurate and telling thing you could call them. Cena for some reason acts like this is THE MOST OFFENSIVE THING, and even tries to talk down Punk’s achievement of the record making championship reign. Then he goes on to say how tough The Ryback is, and steps down from the ring, saying The Ryback is the man to “whip CM Punk’s ass”. The Ryback signs the contract, and then Rybacks CM Punk. Everyone chants about how hungry they are on The Ryback’s behalf, and the show ends on a close up of The Ryback’s oddly shaped head.

MORE TACOS!

 Incidentally, as of this writing, I am pretty hungry. Perhaps I should FEED ME MORE. FEED ME MORE. GRAMMAR BE DAMNED, FEED ME MORE.

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WWE Monday Night Raw Recap & Review 10/8/12

*Pictures and accompanying text by Cheesebadger!
Cheesebadger here! Sometimes I like to get different viewpoints on Raw from different people, just to make sure I’m not insane. I think it’s beneficial every once in a while to let somebody else give their opinion, so this column isn’t just “F–K SHEAMUS” every damn week. That being said, my friend Tressa is an avid Raw/WWE fan, and has plenty of great opinions about the show, so I’m happy to have her share them here. Now enough of me, you’ll get more of my inane commentary next week! Take it Tressa!

Continue reading WWE Monday Night Raw Recap & Review 10/8/12

WWE Monday Night Raw Recap & Review 9/25/12

Tonight’s Raw opens with as cold an opening as it could have, with Paul Heyman and CM Punk doing a classic style sit in, about the end of last weeks Raw. Heyman goes over the ridiculous call the Ref made, clearly ignoring Punk’s foot on the ropes last week, thusly giving the win to Cena. He goes on into detail about it for a while longer, and has the Ref in question appear before him, to admit his mistake, and give his resignation. After some stalling, the Ref comes into the ring, clearly nervous. He gives his explanation, saying he was nervous, and made a bad call. He apologizes, but refuses to resign. Punk and Heyman berate him, and insult AJ at the same time. AJ hears her name, and appears, skipping her way down. She says she’s not there to reverse any decisions, or fire the Ref, but is instead there to get them to leave, saying they’re holding “her” show hostage.

Punk starts to accuse AJ of having a grudge against him, citing her proposal to him months ago. She looks shaken, and he continues, citing a litany of incriminating evidence towards her bias against him, including but not limited to dressing like him, sending him hundreds of illicit texts (allegedly), and even implies that they had some sort of sexual relations, “behind closed doors”, and that his entire “best in the world” gimmick, comes from her praise of his sexual prowess. (allegedly).

He really lays into her. You could say. 

  AJ is noticeably bothered by all of this, and Paul Heyman takes the mic from Punk, and then gets down on one knee, asking her for her hand in marriage, saying they’ll be a new power couple to lead a new wave in the WWE. If that wasn’t insulting and creepy enough, he even says that he likes ’em young, which was funny, because Heyman really does seem like that kind of guy. AJ slaps him, of course, and leaves the ring.

A proposal by Paul Heyman is a fate worse than death. Apparently. 

Backstage The Ref is seen regretting his bad call, and thanks AJ for standing up for him. She threatens to fire him if a bad call like that is ever made again. She continues to lay into him, all the while staring off into the distance, doing her whole crazy girl affectation thing again, which brings her to tears, strangely enough. I’m guessing the job is getting to her, and she’s finally starting to crack.

Holy crap, gayest screen cap ever. Good job Youtube.

Vickie Guerrerro then EXCUSE ME’s her way on stage, introducing Dolph Ziggler. Michael Cole briefly mentions that Kofi Kingston and Dolph had beef on Twitter, and this is why they’re wrestling tonight, rather than the hundreds of other times they’ve wrestled each other without provocation. These guys have wrestled so many times, that seeing them wrestle turns my brain off. Not even R-Truth/Little Jimmy throwing a cup of soda on Vickie could really grab my attention. I’ll tell you what did grab my attention though, was Kofi Kingston botching a drop kick in the worst way possible, missing Ziggler by a good solid foot. Kofi is one of those workers who just pulls down everything and everyone he works with. The dude is a black hole that just sucks up talent, and everyone in his vicinity becomes less talented when around him. After a bunch of back and forth moves between the two, Ziggler finally lands the Zig Zag, and wins. It was a good enough match, and in retrospect, was one of the better ones of the night, but I just can’t stand Kingston. He’d have to set himself on fire and do the SOS on a bucket full of rattlesnakes to get me interested in anything he does. The match seemed designed to push Kingston as a singles competitor again, but I’m sorry, the man isn’t worth it, and it just made Ziggler look weak.

I’ve been vocal with my love of Ziggler on this column, but man, the dude needs to hurry up. He’s spent FAR too long dicking around with his MITB contract, and wrestling schmoes who are beneath him. What happened to the Ziggler who was all I’M BETTER THAN THIS a few months go? That was a good Ziggler I want to see more of, not this ho-hum, bide-my-time loser. If I’m sound extra critical of him this week, it’s because I hate to see what I love, not live up to its potential, and in this case, it doesn’t seem to be the fault of WWE creative, but Ziggler himself. In Kayfabe terms, anyway. I’m sure in real life, he has to wait until the writers are satisfied with letting Sheamus lose the belt, but that won’t happen anytime soon because they just LOOOOVE big white racist strong guys.

After a recap of the whole Daniel Bryan/Kane Tag Team Championship reign/argument, they present the first in a series of segments, featuring Kane and Daniel Bryan still receiving help from Dr. Shelby.

Dr. Shelby and Daniel Bryan are in a restaurant, and Dr. Shelby is explaining they need to work on interacting in non-ewe environments. Bryan asks how, and Kane appears, dressed in a chef’s apron, ready to take their orders. He gets upset, but Dr. Shelby calms him, and asks Bryan to order. Bryan uses the order to insult Kane, but Dr. Shelby insists that Kane role-play the role of “Gerald”, the water. Kane/Gerald then describes an imaginary cook, who Kane found annoying, who took credit for Kane/Gerald’s work, and describes how he took the cook’s face, dunked it in the deep fryer, ripped out his beard, and put it inside of everyone’s food. The local diners look disgusted, and Dr. Shelby asks Kane/Gerald if he’s kidding, to which Kane/Gerald replies ambiguously

It was a funny segment, but I found myself distracted, because there’s a rumor going around that Being Human‘s Sam Huntington, is playing Dr. Shelby. Despite looking vaguely similar, and our own fellow WWE fan here at GB, Godzark, insists it’s him. I don’t believe it. Not only because Sam Huntington has said he isn’t him, multiple times on his own Twitter, but because even if it was him, I just don’t believe the WWE has that talented a make up team to make Dr. Shelby look so convincingly bald, not to mention his other differing facial features, and overall head size and shape. Judge for yourself:

Here’s Sam Huntington:

And here’s Dr. Shelby:

Nope. Not the same guy.

Coming back from the break, we see The Primetime Players awaiting their match against Santino and Zack Ryder. Why Santino and Zack Ryder? I’m not sure. Zack Ryder getting airtime is good, because I like him, and I wish he’d improve his skill set. I can’t think of why he’s teamed up with Santino other than both are silly? Proud of their ignorance? I’m not sure. As for the actual match, I did enjoy Titus O’Neill just grabbing Santino’s dumb Cobra arm, slamming him in the ground to death, and beating him right then and there. The Cobra is stupid guys. Santino is stupid. I have no idea why people like him anymore. I don’t have much more to say about this one, because it was so short.

Hopefully this means The Primetime Players are getting pushed again, but if there’s anything watching TNA wrestling has taught me, is that WWE has forgotten how to make tag matches exciting. They’re doing an admirable job or rebuilding the division, and giving the belts to someone meaningful like Kane & Daniel Bryan is a step in the right direction, they just need to follow through and actually have these mid card tag matches be exciting, rather than route, and by the numbers. I hate having to say how much better Impact Wrestling’s Wrestling is each week than WWE”s, because I love the WWE, and want the best for it. Impact/TNA is entertaining as all get out, but my emotional connection, the company/brand I love, is with WWE. Call me a shill, or a loyalist, but it’s the truth. You can do better WWE, I know you can! Keep at it!

After a quick announcement that there will be a special guest arriving tonight, they cut to a commercial. After the break, we’re treated to the return of the one and only, Hardcore Legend himself, Mick Foley.

Foley comes out and shares some of his memories of CM Punk. He starts to criticize Punk and Heyman, speaking of the CM Punk that he knew, until he’s very quickly interrupted by Punk himself. Foley recants a story that actually sounds like a shoot memory, detailing how when Punk originally won his title, Foley sent him a text congratulating him, and how Punk thanked him in return, saying it meant a lot coming from Foley.  Foley continues saying how since he was one who Punk respected enough to respond to, that Punk’s behavior, and alignment with Paul Heyman, disturbed him. He accuses Heyman of only positioning himself to benefit him, rather than the people he claims to represent, and that Foley himself was a Paul Heyman guy, until he learned to make his own decisions. Foley even makes a pretty solid point, asking why Punk needs Heyman, given his massive prowess on the mic, and his lack of need for Paul Heyman to speak on his behalf. It’s something I’d actually been thinking of as well. Why does Punk need Heyman to speak for him, when he’s such a great talker himself? My guess is it’s all part of building up more heat for him, because Heyman is a heat magnet from nearly any damn audience he confronts. The difference is, with Brock Lesnar, who can’t cut a promo for shit, it made sense for Heyman to do all the talking. For Punk, we just lose a great Punk promo, but I digress.

Punk really rolls around in the new Heel heat he’s getting, and insults the audience directly, and says Foley is wrong and doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Foley then reveals his intention, both Kayfabe and shoot, for being here tonight. Kayfabe, he’s here to encourage Punk to shake off the influence of Heyman, and make a name for himself at Hell In A Cell, citing his own famous HIAC experiences as career defining moments. In shoot terms, he’s there just to promote HIAC indirectly, and to really pull last grubby remnants of Face Punk down, and secure him as the #1 Heel in the company. Insulting Mick Foley is pretty much like committing Face suicide, and a surefire ticket to being hated by general audiences.

Punk then further insults the audience, and Foley’s hardcore legacy, implying that pandering to the audience, or doing any of the death-defying stunts Foley has done, are beneath him. The whole thing seems to really piss everyone off, leaving only me and a bunch of IWC smark ass Punk fans still loving him.Foley continues to goad Punk into going into the HIAC match with Cena, leaving on a pretty compelling promo, asking Punk if he’d rather be a legend, or a statistic. It was a pretty good promo, and still managed to highlight that Punk’s actions all have an internally consistent logic to them, while still showing Foley as the one goddamned person who can actually make a solid, consistent point about Punk, and not have it degenerate into  “You’re a jerk, I don’t like you anymore!. Well not too much, anyway.

A few weeks ago The Miz said he’d go the distance with The Ryback, who is still undefeated. As far as overcoming his Goldbergian stigma, he’s not doing a good job. The Miz does a good job at trying to hang in there, but for every counter, or distraction Miz utilizes, The Ryback simply out muscles him at every turn. It’s good to see The Ryback managing to still looks strong, because Miz isn’t made to look weak by this match, just absolutely dominated, which is what they should have done with The Ryback from the beginning. Seeing The Ryback Ryback jobbers for months on end just made him look like he wasn’t getting any sort of challenge, but guys like Miz, who are stable, confident mid card talent, are exactly the kind of guy The Ryback should be destroying. They’re finally starting to get The Ryback right. Hopefully, he’ll learn a few more moves, because his repertoire is getting extremely repetitive.

We see Daniel Bryan and Kane reminiscing about Smackdown last week. They recall their mutual joy of destroying 4 entire tag teams at once, each with a steel chair in hand. They continue describing, until they start yelling out loud in nearly orgasmic pleasure at the memory of causing pain to others. Eventually, the camera pans over and we see Mae Young, taking an order, and even though it’s clichéd and predictable, I still chuckled when she said “I’ll have what they’re having”. Because the thought of an old woman wanting to share in their orgasmic, sadistic ecstasy, is hilarious. Not that stupid joke from that Billy Crystal movie. Who knew Mae Young had such an angry, dark side to her, just waiting to be unleashed?

 GAH. She does look evil! 

Backstage, we see AJ talking to a bunch of Referees. She says some bullshit about the WWE not having instant replay, even though they totally do, and says it’s okay, because everyone makes mistakes. She’s approached by Alberto Del Rio, Otunga and Ricardo Rodriguez, who ask her why she’s asked them there. She tells them she wants them in a 6 man tag team match against Sheamus, Rey Mysterio, and Sin Cara. Which isn’t fair, because that’s more like a 5 man tag team match, but Ricardo is ever the positive one, proclaims them the Tres Amigos, and runs away joyfully.

Good lord. Tyson Kidd. Between Tyson Kidd being on Raw lately, and the Grizzly Bomb Drunk Review I did last week, I’ve been drinking a lot. For those confused, I take a shot every time I see Tyson Kidd on my television, and for the longest time, that shot just sat there, gathering dust and grime. Lately, I’ve had to take it one every other week, which is about 400% more than it was just a year ago.

As much as I like seeing Tyson Kidd jump around and do stuff, (Kofi, take note, this is what you want to be, and aren’t, in every way.), seeing Wade Barrett destroy people is fun too. I’m really digging his gimmick, and I get a real kick out of saying OY MOY NAYMS WAYEDD BEARETT IND MY BEAR-AGE ‘AS JUSS BEGONE, every time I see him. I just think that his finisher move, which I could have sworn was just a punch last week, was an elbow tonight. I suppose they’re trying to sell that he can hit hard from any angle, with his fists or elbows, which makes sense, but I’d prefer an affectation to sell it. Have him come out with gloves on, and remove one to ready the punch. Sort of like how The Rock took off his elbow pad for The People’s Elbow, but you know, less meaningless and superfluous.

Back from the break, Michael Cole is in the ring, describing the condition of Jerry Lawler, and some of the good news from Lawler’s Doctor. He then introduces Lawler, who gives this message, thanking his fans for all their support:

I thought it was great to see Jerry looking so good, and I love that he has a badass throne room with cardboard Elvis cutouts and knickknacks everywhere. His place totally looks like somewhere i’d totally dig hanging out. I’m very genuinely glad to see he’s doing well, and as much as I like him, I think it’s time he step down from wrestling and commentating alike, to ensure his future well being for his, and all of our sakes. Get well Jerry. Long live The King.

This match is an exercise in a bunch of wrestlers who just seem less than the sum of their parts. I’ve had my problems with Sin Cara and Mysterio in the past, and Otunga is a great backstage character, but a mediocre wrestler at best. Ricardo is obviously trained in the lucha style, but isn’t allowed to wrestle for real. Alberto Del Rio I think is great, but I’m really sick of seeing him lose to Sheamus. Aaaaand I’ve said plenty about Sheamus in this column, and I don’t think i’ll ever be able to top what I wrote about him last week, in regards to why I don’t like him, and why he’s bad for the company as a whole. It was particularly infuriating to hear JR refer to Sheamus as one of the best World Heavyweight Champions in history too. I enjoyed the minutes in this match where Alberto Del Rio got work pretty well with Rey Mysterio, as their style complement each other, but overall the match was forgettable. All the hoopla about Sheamus’ Brogue Kick is a bunch of bullshit too, because a bicycle kick to the head isn’t nearly as big a deal as they are trying to make it out to be. Add to that Sheamus viciously beating on Ricardo, and you’ve got a solid 10 minute segment that consists of me rolling my  eyes out of my head.

Oh yeah, Sheamus sucks.

This has no connection with anything, I just really wanted to share it with all of you.

After that shitgasm, we come back to a refreshing palette cleanser, where we see Dr. Shelby with Kane and Daniel Bryan, urging them to try a step in each other’s shoes. He orders them both two meals, for Kane, a salad, and for Bryan, a plate of meatballs.

It was interesting, because #1, I didn’t know Kane loved meatballs, or that it was somehow representative of him, in a culinary sense. I understand the salad for Daniel Bryan, since that falls right into his whole vegan thing, but meatballs? Kane? Are meatballs from Hell? Is this some weird commentary on meatballs, and how they’re inherently bad for you? I’m not sure.  After that, they both try the food in front of them. Kane burps uproariously, because apparently ingesting leafy greens puts his digestive system into overdrive. Bryan just says the meatballs weren’t as bad as he thought they were going to be, and promptly vomits into Dr. Shelby’s lap. I’m guessing his digestive system is just like Kane’s, but on the inverse spectrum. Watching Kane struggle with eating a tiny piece of lettuce was pretty awesome though.

As the age-old saying goes: You don’t win friends with salad.

Back to the ring, we see the Raw Active for tonight:

So yeah, I didn’t vote, because I didn’t like any of those. On twitter, I was in support of #Dragonfire, since that alludes to Bryan’s history as The American Dragon, and fire is Kane’s whole thing. Plus Dragonfire is way cooler than any of those three. After their introduction, the winner is chosen to be Team Hell No, which is ehhh.. It’s okay I guess. They’re then swiftly attacked by Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes. Sandow appears to be wearing a new shirt, meaning he finally has some merch available, which I want. Unfortunately I can’t find any pictures of it, but it appeared to be a diagram of the evolution of man, from primate to man, to Sandow himself, which is just awesome.

I’m totally gonna buy that shirt one day.

After the attack, Sandow and Rhodes reveal they’re a team themselves now, and proclaim themselves RHODES SCHOLARS, which shocked the hell out of me, because any avid Withleather.com reader, will know that their head writer, Brandon Stroud, came up with that name and promoted it heavily on twitter. Hell, I thought it was brilliant and retweeted it myself a few times. Seeing them actually take that name, was pretty awesome, and that moment felt more like the connection the WWE wants us all to have with Raw Active, more than all other Raw Active’s put together.

Ugh. Another tag team match. Man I know these used to be good, but holy hell is WWE doing a good job at making me hate them all forever. Soon I’ll forget they ever used to be good. I’d hate modern, younger WWE fans to grow up thinking any and all tag team matches are inherently boring. Man that’s a saddening thought… I need something to cheer me up.

Jesus christ girl, DRESS LIKE THIS AGAIN. Take that business suit shit off!

Ahem. Well, this was a pretty typical Divas match. It had them trading moves sloppily, until Eve lands a simple neck breaker, and the win. In fact, in the time it took me to write this entire paragraph, the match ended.

The only interesting thing was when Kaitlyn came out, after having been “attacked” at Night Of Champions, which we all assumed was Eve. Kaitlyn says she reviewed the footage, and couldn’t identify her attacker, but could see her hair was blond. Eve looks totes shocked for realsies, and her and Beth Phoenix start arguing. Eventually, Eve just attacks her without any real provocation, which must mean she really has turned face again, because that’s WWE logic for ya! Now we’re just left with this pseudo-murder/leg-attack mystery thing, where some blond person is responsible for Kaitlyn’s injury. Was it Kaitlyn? Somehow? Maybe it’s just the way they’ll explain Beth Phoenix leaving WWE, which I hear she is doing soon. Whatever. That’s the Divas division in a nutshell isn’t it?

WWE DIVAS: “Whatever.”

Holy shit. I didn’t think it could get worse than Tensai vs Randy Orton last week. What can I say? Two big fat guys running into each other, whose moves are the inverse of each other, does not for a good match make. I want to like Funkasaurus as much as I did when he debuted, but the dude doesn’t do anything other than dance for 20 minutes, squash people with his fatness, and then dance for another 15 minutes. Tensai is Tensai, and isn’t worth writing about anymore. Period. Do you even care who won? Really?

The only saving grace of this match was Big Show appearing, and knocking out Tensai’s stupid hissing ugly face, and following it with a knockout punch to Funkasaurus as well. He looked a bit reluctant to knock out Funkasaurus, and his status as a face or heel is as of yet indeterminate, but regardless, seeing him come out and kill both of them was a merciful sparing of a match I, and nobody else either, should care about. Let’s go Show, continue using that IRONCLAD CONTRACT to make the show better by just punching stupid people in the face to death. Next stop: Kofi Kingston. Then, Sheamus. Go for the WHC gold. Why not? Eff Sheamus.

Not even this would make him interesting.

Listen. I hate John Cena, the wrestler. Hate him. He’s boring, his promos suck, his wrestling ability is limited to say the least, and his character is grating beyond belief. In every way he’s only popular for political reasons within the WWE, because for some reason, kids like him. I don’t understand it, but I guess I can’t, because I’m not a kid anymore. All I know is that segments like this, where John starts off by reminding me by what a good person in real life he is, fills me with mixed emotions. I have enormous respect for John Cena The Man, because his charity work, and dedication towards causes supporting breast cancer research, are objectively a good thing for him to be doing, and that fills me with some actual, genuine happiness, because screw cancer. Eff cancer up it’s stupid ass.

But then he goes on his usual, I’M GONNA WIN AND NEVER GIVE UP, I’LL MAKE IT, IT’S ALL FOR YOU, THE FANS, WITHOUT YOU WE WOULDN’T blah blah blah shit he always does. The dude has made a career out of cutting the same promo endlessly. It was awful. It feels like every other month something happens, and he comes out and says how he may be going away for a while, and with his recent shoot elbow surgery, we’re once again meant to believe he will. But we all know he’ll just be back again next goddamned week. It’s what he does. Nobody has ever gotten fired, quit, taken leave, and then just showed up again next week as many times as he has. I don’t think there’s any other job in the world you could do that at. If I got fired from the bar I work at, I couldn’t just show up next weekend and expect to work there, but this isn’t the real world, it’s the WWE Universe, where up is down, good is bad, and heels are faces and faces are heels.

Punk takes some time to insult John Cena in his own special way, while Paul Heyman molests his WWE Championship belt. At one point a CM PUNK chant starts up, but Punk pretends it’s them booing him, and insults them directly. He’s really trying to get himself over as a heel hardcore. He then threatens Cena, and dares him to run away, by saying that he’ll turn his back on Cena, and if he turns around and sees Cena still there, he’ll beat him to death. So to speak.

So Punk foolishly turns his back on Cena, who then pulls out a lead pipe from his back pocket, and hits Punk in the gut with it. Because you know, yeah, that’s what a role model does. Punk then crawls away, while Cena makes terrible “pipe bomb” puns, and says something about real men wearing Pink,(even though Punk wore pink first), officially co-opting pink as the go to heel color, and making it mean less in that particular context.

Backstage, Punk walks by a group of people, one of whom is Mick Foley. He returns to speak to Foley, and attacks him, then walks away in pain, but turns to see something, and looks terrified at what’s before him. Which is….

A heavy breathing The Ryback. Why The Ryback was there? Who knows. Why he was breathing so heavy? Maybe he’s got asthma? I’m not sure. Why Punk acted like he saw goddamned Cthulhu when it was just The Ryback? Who knows! All I know, is that this must be the beginning of The Ryback as a giant, moving force to be reckoned with in the WWE, or the beginning of a main card push for him, with a potential feud involving CM Punk. It’s all up in the air at this point.

So this episode of Raw is exactly what I’d use to describe a mediocre, middle of the road Raw. Nothing too bad, nothing that great either. The highlights were the Daniel Bryan/Kane segments, as usual, but really, it was full of boring tag team matches, because the ghost of Teddy Long is obviously possessing AJ, and really only seemed to be there to convince people that yes, Punk is a heel. He’s really a heel now guys. For realsies. Stop cheering him? Please?

WHOA. 

WWE Monday Night Raw Recap & Review: 9/17/12

Tonight’s Raw opens up with CM Punk’s music, but instead of ol’ Punk walking out, we get Paul Heyman, strutting his way down the ramp. He begins talking about last night’s PPV, Night Of Champions. Last night, we saw a bunch of surprises, but mostly we saw another great match with Punk and Cena. As much as I dislike Cena, his whole invincible schtick works well with a guy like Punk. Punk has always done well in his career, when he’s fighting against impossible to defeat super-wrestlers, who kick out of everything and might as well be God. It creates a dramatic tension that works really well, and it worked well, right up until the end of the match. Paul Heyman touches on this, by describing how the Referee made the right call, by calling the match a draw.

For those who didn’t see Night Of Champions, the match was a roller coaster. Towards the end, Cena tried a german suplex from the top rope, and pinned CM Punk for the 3 count. However, he forgot to bridge, and lift his shoulders off of the mat, thus making Punk, technically pinning Cena, for the 3 count as well. The match ended with the Referee reversing his decision to call Cena as the winner, and re-called it a draw, which in a championship match, means the champion retains the title. Cena, of course, found this infuriating, and was seen demanding the match continue. This is relevant for one main reason, one i’ll touch on later.

Heyman brings out the Referee from that match. He applauds the Ref’s judgment and shows some video a fan shot on their camera phone, clearly showing Cena’s shoulders on the mat. He starts saying how CM Punk is worthy of our respect, and a moment after he says the word “respect”, Cena interrupts, and runs down to the ring. He gets interrupted by a few strong CENA SUCKS chants, and then agrees with Heyman about the Ref’s call. He tries to make some ham-fisted point about the ending being disappointing, because the Superbowl shouldn’t end in a tie, and that it should have gone on, and all that noise. This is where I have to admit that Cena is correct, yes, I did want to see that match end definitively. I definitively wanted to see it end with Punk remaining champion, and seeing that that happened, I’m 100% fine with it. He asks if that victory entitles Punk to respect, and Heyman says Yes. Personally, I think you can’t earn what you already should have, and do have, by the sound of the still very loud pops Punk gets from the crowd, but I digress. Eventually Cena challenges Punk to a rematch, because, duh. Heyman says Cena will hear it straight from Punk, the moment he arrives. He proclaims himself the Voice of the Voice Of The Voiceless, which is goddamned hilarious.

Suddenly Alberto Del Rio arrives, and that’s a shame. Not because I dislike ADR, I love him, but because the second his music sounded, I already knew this was turning into a tag team match at the end of the show, with ADR and Punk, and Cena and Sheamus. Because shitty GM’s always do this, and as much as I want to like AJ The GM, she’s a terrible one. She’s as bad as Teddy Long, and holy crap, her hotness only goes so far towards making me not hate her. She’s uncreative, her “crazy” affectations are getting forced, and worst of all, she used to be the most developed, nuanced and interesting female character they had in the WWE. Now she’s just another boring, shitty GM. It’s a shameful thing. Lobster head.

Just like I thought, Alberto whines about his loss to Sheamus, and AJ appears. She makes the tag team match, and I start barfing uncontrollably, and wonder why the hell I watch this crap, goddamnit everyone else stopped 12 years ago, what am I doing with my life?

What? Sorry. Ahem.

Back from the break Michael Cole gives us all amazing news about Jerry Lawler, and gives a wonderful, pleasing greeting to him live on air, knowing he’s watching at home. He even shows this heartwarming Tout from Lawler, thanking his fans for their support.

It was really nice to see Michael Cole giving good news, and acting like himself, rather than the sometimes shitheel announcer guy he can act like. Suddenly, we’re introduced to Lawler’s replacement(s!): JBL, aka John Bradshaw Layfield, Aka Bradshaw, who is a goddamned great commentator. He’s followed by goddamned Jim Mothereffing Ross, and hearing Michael Cole and Jim Ross side by side, brought back pleasant memories. Even more interesting, was hearing  JBL take on the “heel” commentator role throughout the night, and Michael Cole, kinda-sorta adapting to becoming the “face” commentator, which was surpassingly refreshing. JBL works as an amazing heel commentator, and Cole worked well as himself/a face commentator, and JR was good ol’ JR.

Sin Cara & Rey Mysterio take Primo and Epico through the cleaners, which isn’t a surprise to anyone. They jump and flop around all over the ring, right up until they beat Primo and Epico. After winning, The Primetime Players show up, and beat down Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio, and proclaim themselves truly worthy of the #1 Tag Team contendership, which was stolen from them. In a way, it was kinda unfairly taken from them, so I get their point. The problem with them, is they took to damn long being at the #1 spot. Shit or get off the pot, as my mom says. So now that there’s new tag team champs, the #1 contenders spot for it is heating up, and potentially, we’ll see Sin Cara and Mysterio getting that spot soon.

The main problem I have with Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio, is that separately, their style can adapt and work with other wrestlers, who help make the match feel improvised, fluid, and real. Sure, Mysterio always manages to make his opponents magically land in such a way that they’re resting their head on the middle rope, but generally he works well. Sin Cara, all botched moves aside, is a guy who really has a hard time masking (sorry) the overtly rehearsed nature of his move set. The both of them together, the thing seems less like a tag team match, and more of a rehearsed series of spots, that just happen to involve Primo and Epico. They’re being built up as a team right now, and hopefully they’ll learn to complement each other better in the future.

Last night Eve won the match against Layla for the Diva’s championship. Now, Kaitlyn was supposed to be the one getting the title shot, but she was apparently attacked before the match, and couldn’t compete. The moment I saw Kaitlyn attacked, I already knew this entire storyline and exactly how it’d play out. We’ve seen Eve being super friendly, nice, and exuding great sportsmanship in general. Of course, everyone suspects she’s up to something, because in the WWE being a good sport, or nice, or using logic are somehow bad traits to be looked upon with suspicion. So what I imagine happened is this: Eve gets herself in the good graces of Booker T, secretly attacks Kaitlyn, counts on being her replacement, becomes said replacement, wins championship, Kaitlyn shows up at some point, accuses Eve, Eve denies it for a few weeks, then reveals her master plan eventually, becoming a heel again.

It’s mostly stupid, but it also undermines the idea that good sportsmanship is something to be encouraged, and instead is a sign of behavior to not be trusted. What’s the difference then between any heel who turns face, when all good behavior is inherently shady, by the virtue of casting doubt on everyone for no reason other than “I don’t buy it”? How do you encourage positive character development? It’s a self-perpetuating cycle of mistrust, poorly implemented moral values, and at worst, a bad message to promote to children. It creates an environment where an immature, racist, criminal character like Sheamus is lauded and loved by millions of fans, despite his behavior being entirely inappropriate in any sort of real life setting. Who the hell encourages this, especially for their children? I find this sort of thing far more damaging for kids to watch, rather than any of the “mature” content that they had in the Attitude Era. Sure there may have been blood, and boobs, and chauvinism, (okay so that’s pretty bad), but it carried a TV-14 rating, and it was repeatedly stressed that parents should consider discretion when it came to letting kids view the show. Now, it’s TV-PG, and while there’s less blood or violence, and the misogyny is downplayed (a little), there’s a far worse moral message, that’s incredibly backwards, and counter intuitive to basic societal norms, where people acting like shitheel racist thieves are you know, demonized for their actions, rather than celebrated.

Shit, I went and turned a whole segment about Eve into how much I hate Sheamus again. goddamnit. Anyhow, Eve wins. Layla yells at her about being a phony or something, I dunno, I need a drink dammit. Screw Sheamus.

So as much as I love the One Man Band, there’s no way he’s beating Funkasaurus. Claudio Castignole Antonia Cesaro is at ringside, commentating on the whole thing, but he doesn’t really do anything. For a brief, shining moment, Heath Slater actually starts to beat down Funkasaurus, and in that moment, my heart swelled three sizes, anticipating a tremendous upset to the match, where Heath Slater pins Funkasaurus, stands up, and starts singing his ONE MAAAANNNN BAAAAA AAAAAA AAAAANNNND song, and all the children run up and dance with him, the Funkadactyls embrace him, and he looks down at the beaten Funkasaurus, who slinks away defeated.

Kinda like this.

But no, Funkasaurus squashes him with his fat, and pins Slater for the win. Then he dances, because duh, what else is he gonna do?

Slaters gonna slate.

There’s been a long tradition of wrestlers coming out and pretending to be talk show hosts for a minute or two. Rowdy Roddy Piper had Piper’s Pit, Jericho had his Highlight reel, and Edge had The Cutting Edge. Now we’re adding MizTv to that list. You know, I’m not against it entirely. The idea of it anyway, seems fine to me. The Miz has always been better on the mic than in the ring, and while he’s definitely improved in the latter department, he’s still a better talker, and I think he knows it. Unfortunately this segment was trash. Booker T is invited out, and Miz taunts him about being unfairly punished by a 4 way match for his title, which he believes was unfair. He refuses to let Booker T speak, until Booker grabs the mic from him forcibly, when Miz starts saying how Booker T’s time is over, and he’s washed up and whatnot.

While he’s not wrong, the audience chants BORING, which I, and JBL agree with, because JBL is awesome and we’re buddies. Booker then makes some weird transition into announcing The Ryback’s entrance, who chases Miz out of the ring, and then starts chucking all of the MizTV furniture out of the ring. I half expected him to start ripping up the furniture pillows, and eating the stuffing inside, while yelling FEED ME MORE. He didn’t but he did start saying his catchphrase, and the audience loved it. The Ryback is massively over, it would seem.

Backstage, we see CM Punk and Paul Heyman apparently talking about how AJ is abusing her power, until they’re interrupted by Josh Matthews. He asks Punk if he’s looking forward to teaming up with ADR, and Punk says he isn’t, and questions what he has to do to get some respect. I’ve gone in detail about this before, so i’ll just reiterate it simply; Punk deserves respect. Heel or Face, he deserves it. Period. How does he not? There’s no way he hasn’t earned it, and people who say otherwise must have a terrible memory that prevents them from remembering his currently 300+ day reign, or nearly all of last summer. That’s just in WWE, by the way, if you include his ROH career, then you’d be retarded not to respect him.

This was a great match for 3 main reasons.

1.) Ziggler destroys Santino, as he should. I was fearing for a second they’d job Dolph out to Santino, thusly weakening Ziggler, rather than strengthening Santino like I’m sure they wish.

2.) Ziggler steals that stupid cobra sock from Santino, thus disabling him of his Cobra Powers. He then taunts him with it, calls him an idiot, and a joke. All things I’ve personally wanted to do to Santino for months now.

3.) JBL points out how stupid the Cobra and Santino are, and how great a coach and manager Vickie is.

So Ziggler beats Santino, by taking away his stupid arm sock. Something nobody else has thought to do, ever since Santino started putting that stupid thing on. Finally.

We cut to a clip of Wade Barrett from Smackdown, issuing a promo about how tough he is, and shortly, we see him enter Raw. It was a surprise to see former Nexus members against each other, and the audience even commented on that fact, by chanting WE WANT NEXUS repeatedly through the entire match. Wade Barrett controlled Gabriel throughout the whole match, but the entire time Gabriel never came off as a shitty jobber, just a guy who was outmatched by the more dominant Barrett. In that sense, it was one of the better matches I’ve seen, when it comes to building a wrestler for a comeback. I almost called Barrett new talent, because his entire demeanor, character, and style has changed, and all for the better. The guy’s finisher is a punch, which more or less is the same as Big Show’s WMD, but from him, I can buy it, what with the Bareknuckle Boxer gimmick as his background. I think they just need to add some kind of build up to it, like him taking off his gloves/tape, to sell it, and it’d get over just fine. Barrett won, but the whole match made me look forward to more of him, and more of Justin Gabriel, which is something I never thought I’d type. Good job guys!

The imaginary person he just punched is now dead.

Backstage we cut to R-Truth, trying to put a party hat on Little Jimmy. We never actually see what happens to the party hat, but presumably it falls to the floor. It could be argued it was just floating in mid-air, and that was just off-screen, proving Little Jimmy is real once and for all, but I may be looking too deep into justifying Little Jimmy’s existence. The reason Truth is putting a hat on Little Jimmy, is it’s Subway’s birthday, and for some reason a sandwich company’s birthday is being celebrated by him and Kofi Kingston.

Suddenly, Jared from Subway shows up, and offers sandwiches for R-Truth, Kofi, and even Little Jimmy. Soon after they leave, Damien Sandow shows up, and suggests a sandwich made of Cornish game hen, Gouda, and Zucchini reduction, which sounds… actually kind of good. Jared offers him a meatball sub instead, and Sandow takes it, because not even the most stuffy pretentious guy can hate on a meatball sub. That shit’s delicious. Zack Ryder shows up, pitching a sub named after his catchphrase, but is given an italian BMT instead. Jared looks concerned, and the camera pans to reveal The Ryback standing there. Obviously, he says FEED ME MORE, and takes two sandwiches and leaves. It was a funny enough segment, but without The Ryback making it worth it, would have been a pretty terrible attempt at blatant product placement. Not that that’s something the WWE isn’t uncomfortable with, because entire segments that revolve around product placement are pretty much their advertising lifeblood. Mostly, it made me want a meatball sub, so I guess it’s mission accomplished in that regard.

“Dine wholesomely!”

We then see Sheamus and John Cena talking about how awesome they both are, and how they’re gonna win, and never give up, and all of that crap. Also racism. Goddammit, I hate this shit. Where’s my whiskey? AND WHY ARE THOSE KIDS ON MY LAWN AGAIN?!?

Thankfully after this,we cut to Daniel Bryan and Kane both intermittently yelling I’M THE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS at people’s faces, as they ready for their rematch against R-Truth & Kofi Kingston. Last night, at NOC, they beat them both for the Tag Team Championship, but couldn’t come to a resolution as to which of them won the match, and are actually the champions. So they started yelling “I’M THE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS” at each other, both proclaiming to be the “champions” themselves, purposely referring to themselves as the plural of champion.

You’re both the champions guys, C’mon. Hug it out already.

The match itself was a good example of how to highlight the difference between a successful “paired” tag team can be, versus an unsuccessful one. Kofi and Truth both have their jumpy, flashy move thing going on, but absolutely no chemistry. R-Truth is a charismatic, interesting insane person, who is dragged down by a boring, unlikable, lousy wrestler like Kofi. Conversely, Kane and Daniel Bryan bring the best out of each other, and their move sets fill in each of their weak spots. Bryan’s not a heavy hitter, but he’s got technical prowess and tenacity. Kane’s not that agile, but what he lacks in agility and stamina he has in pure raw strength.

On top of that, they’re both hilarious in backstage segments and angles, and their whole anger management gimmick has been working in spades. The match just demonstrated this over and over again, as we saw Truth and Kingston both try to isolate Daniel Bryan from Kane, but Daniel Bryan is good enough on his own to take on either of them easily, and despite Kane and Bryan working against each other, when it came down to it, Bryan ran in their to secure their championships. Sure, his motivations may have been selfish, but the fact is, their gimmick works. All Kingston and Truth ever had were matching clothes, with a ripoff of the Superman logo, with Kofi’s weird Rastafarian/spider head logo thing in the middle. Kane and Bryan beating them, was no surprise, but because of their chemistry, it wasn’t boring either. Plus Daniel Bryan using the Hug It Out tactic to reclaim his title from Kane’s clutches? Brilliant.

It’s hard to imagine they hugged shortly after this.

Wow. The two least charismatic wrestlers in the WWE today. I hate both of these guys, and not in a passionate way like I do Sheamus. I don’t even want to write about them anymore. Randy Orton wins, because he’s Randy Orton. There. Done. Ugh.

After that shiftiest of a boring match, we cut backstage to Heyman and CM Punk talking again. They interact with David Otunga, who insults Punk on Alberto Del Rio’s behalf, and CM Punk has Heyman remind him of Punk’s defeat of ADR last year for the title. They trade faux platitudes of respect, and we’re finally treated to a breath of fresh air from the stinky fart cloud of awful that was that Orton-Tensai match. (I really hated it).

Damien Sandow appears, denouncing Summer as a terrible season (Yeah! Eff Summer), and begins educating all of us, by going through a series of vocabulary words. What’s great about this, is the entire audience seems to HATE a wrestler trying to educate them, or make them smarter in any fashion. Sure, Sandow’s picking a strange setting to give us that lesson, but hell, why not? Why not educate the unwashed masses on the meaning of a few big words? What do you hate learning? WHY DO YOU HATE LEARNING WWE UNIVERSE? KNOWLEDGE IS POWER, REMEMBER?

Anyhow, Zack Ryder comes out, pulling off his best ignorant-and-proud-of-it Bro routine, and slams Sandow. Quickly, he announces that they have a match that’s suddenly been approved by AJ, and they begin wrestling. The match itself was actually pretty good. Zack Ryder’s ability seems directly proportionate to the skill level of whoever he’s working with, and sometimes I think he’s great, and other times I wonder why I ever thought he was great. It’s really weird, and makes me wonder why that happens. However, Sandow clearly is talented, and their ability to work together made for a pretty great match, which actually made Ryder look like he was going to cleanly beat Sandow, up until Sandow got the upper hand and ended it with his finisher, getting the pin, cartwheeling, posing, and then conducting his own music out of the ring.

You know, the best thing about this match was that they’re polar opposites in terms of character, and rightfully should be natural enemies. Zack Ryder is the quintessential “unwashed mass” that Sandow is always speaking of, and the uncultured, unrefined anti-intellectual that Sandow has always been saying he’s going to save us from. They should fight more, and make the whole thing into a wrestling battle of wits, with Ryder representing the ignorant proletariat layman, and Sandow the cultured bourgeoisie dandy. Why not?

This whole match, aside from being yet another Tag Team match shoehorned in as a main event of a Raw, was another example of how John Cena, despite being the go-to honest, tough guy, is always as hypocritical as any heel. Be it his constant bullying of people who can’t fight back, (announcers like Michael Cole), or pulling stunts like he did at the end of this match. Along with the fact that we’ve seen Alberto Del Rio and Sheamus fight, probably a million times now, always with Sheamus winning in lame, unsatisfying, or dishonest ways, the match seemed very by the numbers. After the thrill ride that was last night’s match between Punk and Cena, this whole thing seemed very by the numbers.

After a few minutes of all of them wrestling, and myriad LETS GO CENA/CENA SUCKS chants, the match came to a head with Cena landing an AA on Punk, and pinning him. However, the Referee did not see Punk getting a foot on the rope, thus effectively negating the 3 count. Unfortunately, the lamebrain Ref doesn’t see this, despite totally obviously seeing it, and counts 3 anyway. This is particularly infuriating, because even after being shown his fault on the titantron, the Ref refuses to reverse his decision, or restart the match. Cena takes the win, and as quickly as possible, leaves the arena, apparently accepting the Ref’s decision as final, despite evidence that he clearly shouldn’t have won the match.

This is when JBL makes the exact point I was thinking, and says how hypocritical Cena is for not demanding the match to go on when HE WINS, despite the Ref’s call being terrible. Apparently it’s okay when a Ref makes a shitty call resulting in his win, but when a Ref makes a good call, that results in a draw, all of a sudden that’s NOT RIGHT AND SHOULDN’T HAVE ENDED THAT WAY. Sickening.

CM Punk follows the shitheel Referee out of the ring, and up behind the titantron, screaming at him the entire way, until the show ends. Rightfully screaming, I might add, because I was just as furious as he was. Who does this? Who watches blatant video of themselves making a mistake, knowing full well they can right it, and then refuses to? If you ask me, the whole thing was terrible, and Punk is lucky Heyman was there to hold him back, and calm him down, lest Punk get punished for attacking a WWE official.

Although if he did, it would have been justified, because that Ref clearly didn’t respect him.

Also, still:

Monday Night Raw Recap & Review 8/3/12

After the typical last week recap, tonight’s Raw opens up with CM Punk and Jerry Lawler fighting backstage, in plain clothes. I should say, it opens up with Jerry Lawler attacking Punk, and Punk then knocking him to the ground and being carried away by referees, and faded away into the credits on a sprawled, unconscious Lawler.

Immediately after this, Sheamus enters the arena, ostensibly to get cheap Face heat by mentioning how great Chicago is, to a Chicago audience, and to talk about how baaaaaddd he’s gonna beat up Alberto Del Rio at the next PPV. Then of course, CM Punk interrupts him, to a pretty damn loud cheer from the crowd, who are clearly psyched to see CM Punk, and a very clear, very LOUD CM Punk chant starts. It was refreshing to actually see Punk get some damn respect for once. What proceeds is CM Punk utterly destroying Sheamus on the mic, with every single one of Sheamus’ very obviously rehearsed pop-inducing face comments, being utterly ignored or booed by the Punk loving audience. In a situation where the script obviously called for Sheamus to be the guy the crowd rallied behind, the whole thing failed miserably for him, simply because the writers forgot to factor in the fact that Chicago frigging LOVES Punk, and were hanging on his every word. A highlight was seeing Punk toss back the word “Fella” at Sheamus derisively. Another was Sheamus desperately trying to remind an audience that clearly hates him, that he’s the World Heavyweight Champion. It was glorious watching him go all,  “Hey Punk fella, I’m the WHC, that sure does matter doesn’t it? Right guys? Hey… is this thing on? Oh god…”

Love me? Please? 

Punk makes a solid, long promo, defying anyone to say he’s turned their back on the WWE Universe, to uproarious applause from the audience, and continues his “disrespect” rhetoric, until AJ comes out to make a match between the two, saying it’s a Champion VS Champion match, and just leaves.

After the break, we get a quickly set up match between Randy Orton and Dolph Ziggler. The thing as a whole was more or less pretty good, despite the fact that I just can’t stand Randy Orton. I love Ziggler but the fact that I found this match forgettable, is a testament to just how boring I find Randy Orton. The man is the King Midas of boring matches. In fact, I’m having a really hard time remembering ANY Randy Orton match I’ve ever found interesting, or at the very least, not forgettable. This is the case of a stellar performer like Ziggler, being dragged down by a mediocre worker, who for reasons I’ll never understand is popular. I can’t help but think if the match was Ziggler and anyone else, this would have been a highlight for me, but it’s just not the case. Regardless of what I think, the match had a few interesting bits, because seeing a superplex will always be cool, and the fact that Ziggler managed to pin and beat Orton clean, was a goddamned saving grace. If Orton had won, it would have been possibly the most forgettable match of the night, and another amongst the plethora of reasons to hate Orton.

At the end of the match, The Miz walks out, and joins Michael Cole at the commentary table, to replace Jerry Lawler, who they previously announced is all hurt and injured, for realsies. FOR REALSIES GUYS. I presume Lawler wanted his Labor Day off, probably to go hit on 16-year-old girls, so having him replaced was pretty great. Unfortunately, The Miz wasn’t nearly as awesome on the commentators mic as I hoped he’d be, which was really disappointing. I had high hopes for him, and he really kinda let me down the whole night.

Next, we cut to Daniel Bryan and Kane in Anger Management Therapy again, and this time, they’re presenting their anger collages. Bryan presents his, which is a paper with the words YES and NO scrawled over and over, and he expresses the fact that he feels everyone is mocking him by continuing to say YES at him, which is at least consistent with his character, since months ago he DID say he felt the people were mocking him. It was a cheap way to deflect how over he was with everyone after hie Wrestlemania debacle, but they ultimately made the right choice by deciding to keep him Heel rather than use that heat to quickly turn him Face again. In the long run, it’s only benefitted him more anyway. So next we see Kane’s anger collage, which is a blank piece of paper. The counselor asks him if that blank piece of paper represents what Kane feels inside, and Kane stands up, throws the paper into the trash can, and then summons a burst of flame from the can, presumably incinerating the paper. He sits back down, and Daniel Bryan calls him a teacher’s pet.


I love the idea of Kane using his pyrokinetic abilities in real life situations. He’d be great guy to call to help set up bonfires, or if you needed to get your BBQ lit, because those coals were being extra stubborn. I think they even did that once, at the Great American Bash. So in fact, there is someone out there like me, writing ridiculous, retarded ways for Kane to be relevant outside of the wrestling ring. I’m glad there is, because I see the only way to make his character new and exciting again, is to just go full meta like they seem to be doing, and just have him become the Deadpool of the WWE. Having him apologize to Josh Matthews while choke slamming him because HE CAN’T HELP IT AUUURGHHH, is great. Having him reference his insane litany of history that’s canon in WWE is another way, and following it up by having him continue to be willfully absurd is a pretty great thing. It works, in an insane way, and is the kind of comedy wrestler I actually can enjoy.

Ugh. Man. Tensai.  I honestly had half a mind to just write “TENSAI IS STUPID.”  a couple dozen times instead of this paragraph, but I’ve probably said that enough times in this column. The match itself wasn’t actually half bad, and seeing Cody Rhodes against Rey Mysterio, made both of their move sets work better, since they’re lighter performers, and their whole dynamic worked well, since it made all of their moves make more sense. I can buy the fact that the 619 is a damaging move for a guy like Rhodes, because it makes sense.

When you do what amounts to a running spin-around drop kick through the ropes, I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy that you running and kicking someone like, oh let’s say Big Show, Cena, Kane, or even Randy Orton, is at all damaging. It doesn’t look good no matter how well they try to sell it. When someone like Rhodes does his Crossroads finisher, which is just a spinning face plant neck breaker thing, when it’s one someone bigger than him, it looks lousy. When it’s on someone his size or smaller, he effin’ slams their whole body into the mat by rapidly twisting their neck, and it looks painful as hell. I guess what I’m saying is, they need to create some kind of cruiserweight division again, where guys their size can fight other guys whose moves will complement each other, and we can get more faster paced, athletic matches from them, while still keeping the heavy hitting, methodical, grapple-fests from the bigger guys. You don’t even have to call it a cruiserweight division, just have those guys wrestle each other.

What? Right. The match. Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara win. Shocker, I know.

Back to Anger Management, we see the group Daniel Bryan and Kane are in, demonstrating trust falls. Daniel Bryan is hesitant, but lets Kane catch him, executing a successful trust fall. Kane catches him, and everyone applauds. The Counselor asks Bryan and Kane to work together, to catch their peer Harold. They extend their arms out ready to catch him, and both let Harold fall to the ground. Bryan asks Kane if he knew that he was not going to catch him, and Kane asks him back the same. Bryan says he feels like they are finally beginning to understand each other. Then we find out Harold may need medical attention, as he apparently took a pretty nasty fall.

Sheamus enters the arena again, ready to begin his match with CM Punk. Initially, this pissed me off, a lot. The fact that this CHAMPION VS CHAMPION match was what, the first of the second hour? It just seemed SO insanely disrespectful to BOTH of them (eff Sheamus), and the titles they hold. I got so upset I even TOUTED it to WWE, and in my mind’s eye, Michael Cole saw that Tout later that night, and thought, “This is true. Something must be done about this. Thank you Adam Popovich, your insight is invaluable. By the way, AJ says she totally wants to go out with you. Here’s her number.”

So when Punk comes out, he’s still dressed in plain clothes, and has a mic. He makes the perfectly reasonable point that a CHAMPION VS CHAMPION match is a Wrestlemania worthy main event, and uses the goodwill of the crowd to take the day off of work. He then leaves the arena, to mixed cheers and some boos from the crowd. On one hand, good on him. It’s Labor Day. If Lawler gets the day off, why shouldn’t he? On the other hand, I’m positive Chicago really did wanna see their Second City Saint wrestle that night. Sheamus tries to make some half-baked point about him “turning his back” on the fans, as well do Michael Cole and The Miz. Really though, the dude’s just taking a day off. I guess in the WWE Universe taking a day off might as well be up there with kicking puppies or loving Hitler, because they continually try to sell it as cowardly, or treacherous to his fan base.

Every single moment Punk was on stage/screen, that crowd loved him, and the only reason they booed him was because they wanted to see more of him. To try to spin that as anything else, makes you no better than Lawler. Besides, this whole angle is counterintuitive, because the goddamned WWE belt is SUPPOSED to mean you’re the best, and for them to try to say he somehow isn’t, doesn’t undermine Punk, it undermines the value of the BELT. Punk may not be the TRUE Best In The World, but goddamnit, right now, by definition, HE IS. Respect him for that. Let him, I dunno, compete in the MAIN EVENT of your PPV’s. Let’s see someone beat Punk clean, and then you can start trashing him about how he’s not the best, he never was, etc, etc.

On his way out, AJ tries to stop Punk from leaving. Punk reminds her of his contract (Is it Ironclad!?), that guarantees personal days. Not Josh Matthews comes to ask AJ what she’s gonna do for the match, and AJ says she’ll find Sheamus an opponent.

Back from a commercial break, Alberto Del Rio enters, and holy god, I was about to shit bricks with how uncreative a choice that was, but instead he takes seat ringside and starts giving commentary. Then Jack Swagger walks in, the sacrificial lamb in Punk’s place, because c’mon, there’s no way Sheamus is gonna lose to Swagger, and thus, no stakes in this match, or meaning. This is when you pull someone out like Tensai, or Big Show, and have it seem like some semblance of a challenge to Sheamus, who is riding so high on his Invincible White Guy gimmick right now they literally call him The Great White. A couple of times during the match, the crowd even begins to chant “BORING”, right up until Sheamus puts Swagger in a texas cloverleaf, which causes Michael Cole to freak out with excitement at seeing Sheamus use a submission for the first time ever. To give Sheamus credit, a man of his size, twisting your legs that way and place pressure on your back does seem pretty painful, so I can’t fault Swagger for tapping out, thus not making the whole ordeal look like a TOTAL cheap win.

Of course, then Del Rio jumps in to attack Sheamus, because screw it, it’s what Sheamus would do anyway right? Isn’t ADR supposed to be the Heel anyway? So it’s consistent with his character?  Right. Anyhow, Sheamus gets the upper hand, because reasons, and Ricardo Rodriguez, who is an announcer, and Alberto Del Rio’s friend, jumps in to break up the fight, or at least hold back Sheamus from continuing his beating on ADR, gets brutally Brogue kicked. I mean, sure, you could argue that Sheamus was “aiming” for Del Rio, but Ricardo very clearly jumps in to push him out-of-the-way, and Sheamus had plenty of time to stop his kick, but does it anyway. He then continues to taunt in front of Ricardo’s broken body, while Alberto Del Rio screams in worry and shock for his friends health, who now appears to be in a minor coma. I’m having a hard time trying to rationalize more and more how Sheamus is the good guy in this feud at all, and at this point, his entire reason for disliking ADR is that ADR is kind of a cocky jerk who flaunts his wealth, and is mexican. Everything ADR has done has been in retaliation for the scores of terrible things Sheamus has done to him. So despite the fact that these two guys have literally been fighting each other for the last 5 PPV’s in a row, I’m really rooting for ADR to just break his damn arm, and slap him with a restraining order, because it’s ridiculous how terrible Sheamus’ character is at being a good guy.

So after all of that noise, we get a divas match. Layla enters, and sits at ringside, giving commentary. Why they’re using this exact same trope again, beats me, and I’m guessing they’re hoping we won’t notice. Layla starts up some petty argument with The Miz about Eve’s character, who lately has attempted to try to turn Face again by acting, guess what? Honorable, Kind, and showing Good Sportsmanship! She insists that Eve is “phony”, and doing all of it as a ruse, and while she may end up being right, and I’d have to end up eating my words, the way things are in the WWE at this point I literally do expect the Heels to act far more honorable, kind and sportsmanly than any of the Faces.

As for the match itself, despite Kaitlyn’s weird man arms, they actually wrestled pretty well together. Eve even manages to win cleanly, and pins Kaitlyn, but still somehow, Layla manages to try to spin it as deceitful. Eve then checks on Kaitlyn to make sure she’s ok, congratulates her, and then exits the ring to shake Layla’s hand, in a show of good sportsmanship all around. I don’t understand how she’s supposed to be a bad guy anymore, but screw it. I mean, AM I IN GODDAMNED BIZARRO WORLD? Is there some universe where the WWE has its moral properties straight, and guys like Sheamus are vilified for being the goddamn hooligan assholes they are, and perfectly reasonable guys who are just kind of douchey aren’t seen as inherently bad?

The downside of that alternate universe would be that in real life, stealing, insulting, and beating people would be considered virtues, and sure Sheamus-2 would be a Heel, but Adam-2 would be complaining about why he isn’t a Face, when he’s clearly a good guy, based on all the lying, cheating, stealing and unprovoked attacks he does. Basically, no matter what universe I’m in, Sheamus pisses me off.

After that, we see Jack Swagger leaving the arena, with AJ following him. She asks him what he’s doing, and he says he’s leaving because he’s better than this. She acts like this is a big surprise, which is confusing for a multitude of reasons. Isn’t his match over? Why shouldn’t he leave? But really, he states that’s he’s LEAVING leaving, for a few months, probably because he’s goddamn sick of being buried so hard. AJ begs him not to leave, because Brock Lesnar, Jericho, and Punk have left, and now he is too. He tells her to get bent, and leaves back to his home planet. A planet called TNA Wrestling. Maybe. Hopefully.

And Jesus. AJ. You’re killing me. YOU were the one who made Jericho leave. You can’t have a “Loser Leaves WWE” match, and act like the guy abandoned you when he loses that match. I know, in real life Jericho left to focus on his band, but c’mon girl, kayfabe. Sometimes, I’d just rather attribute character inconsistencies or illogical choices due to breaking kayfabe, rather than just shitty memory/writing. Sometimes, I give the WWE too much credit. Ugh. Ok, sexy AJ pic time.

That’s better.

Back to Anger Management, we see Daniel Bryan expressing how his anger problem is cured, and is happy to give Kane a rematch for their match at Summerslam. Kane accepts it, while politely threatening him. They start to get in each other’s faces, with Bryan saying he’d make Kane tap out, and Kane threatening to destroy him in this very room. Harold pipes up, apparently recovering from his cranial trauma, and is quickly and angrily silenced by Daniel Bryan and Kane, who both yell at him to shut up. They continue taunting each other, and The Counselor tries to break up their fight, until he totally snaps, screams at them both, and storms off in a huff.

“Don’t let him hurt me Kane!”

Back to Michael Cole, who announces the WWE Interactive feature of the night, where he gives the WWE Universe the choice to choose what kind of match they’ll see. Tonight’s choices were:

You’re not misreading that. In a brilliant creative decision, someone decided to finally let the Raw Active thing do something useful, by putting up a hilarious “joke” choice as one of the selections, and you better believe I tweeted that #WWEhug like a mofo. In fact, ALL of twitter was lighting up with #WWEhug, singlehandedly justifying the use of Twitter, and Raw Active in one fell swoop. Some people complained about the overwhelming choice of @WWEhug, but goddamnit, why would you not want to see that? Why?

Backstage, Not Josh Matthews is asking a tearful Alberto Del Rio about Ricardo Rodriguez’s condition, and David Otunga shows up, saying that his “client”, will not be answering any questions at this time. I love Lawyer/Wrestler David Otunga, and think this kind of role is the perfect choice for him. I’m looking forward to the fake lawsuit ADR and Otunga will file against Sheamus.

So this was a match that happened. The Ryback Ryback’s Jinder Mahal. Is this supposed to be a feud? Are we supposed to suspend our disbelief to think that Jinder Mahal has a chance against The Ryback? The most interesting thing was The Miz saying he would go the distance in a match against The Ryback, which I’d actually like to see. This match was exactly like every The Ryback match ever, right down to the obligatory GOLDBERG chants. The Ryback wins. Also, the sky is blue.

Backstage again, we see Not Josh Matthews asking AJ what her plans are for tonight, since things are somehow falling apart, in his words. She tells him to tell Alberto Del Rio and John Cena, that their match will be a Falls Count Anywhere match.

Daniel Bryan makes his entrance into the ring, trying to calmly no… no… no… his way into the ring, followed by Kane. They stand in the ring, awaiting the results of the WWE Universe’s Raw Active choice. It’s announced that the winning match type is #WWEhug, meaning they have to “Hug it out”. What transpires, is probably one of the funniest damn things I’ve seen in WWE history. The two of them, both awkwardly trying to accept hugging each other, Daniel Bryan complaining that Kane didn’t hug him back, and the both of them finally, tenderly embracing, was priceless.

And EVERYONE cheered.

They then start to do the uncomfortable Bro-slap on each other, which escalates into them fighting each other, but holy hell, #WWEhug was a goddamn success. The whole thing as a de facto “match” being refereed, and The Miz spouting the “rules” of the match, was amazing. Of course, once they started fighting, Kane gets the upper hand and tries to put Daniel Bryan’s head inside a chair, and jump on it from the top rope, but he’s distracted by a group of Ref’s, and Daniel Bryan hits him with the chair and gets away.

I take it back. The official most forgettable match of tonight was between these two. Listen, I love Claudio Castignole. I do. But give him someone real to wrestle against. He’s goddamn great. Let him give the title some meaning. On the most part, this whole match consisted of Cesaro destroying Santino, and retaining his title pretty definitively. The best part of the match was Cesaro stomping on the stupid Cobra sock angrily. I honestly think the entire match was about two minutes long at best, so really, have Cesaro show his skills against someone real already.

This was probably the most underrated match of the night. The fact is, Zack Ryder, gimmicks and stuff aside, is a competent worker, who should be utilized more. So is Heath Slater. They’re both pretty much on the same caliber right now. Heath Slater may be playing resident jobber right now, but dammit if he’s not innately watchable. Zack Ryder’s enthusiasm is also very infectious, so really, the both of them ought keep doing what they’re doing, and we can get totally decent mid card matches like this. The only thing that would make them better is if they were longer. Zack Ryder gets the pin on Slater, and celebrates his official second win on Raw. I think. He’s never won more than twice? Damn. I didn’t notice. Anyhow, as harsh as that is, hopefully it’s changing.

Right after the match ends, Vickie Guererro walks into the arena, demanding a chair, to have a sit in, saying she needs to be heard. We cut to a commercial, and all I can imagine is that for 4 whole minutes, that poor Chicago crowd had to deal with Vickie just sitting there, boringly, while the live show they’re taping waits for the break to end, so they can continue the show. Perhaps something in timing was screwed up, because I’m feeling like the match should have gone on longer, and her coming out, and asking for a chair should have happened during the break, and we just come back to her in the ring with the chair.

And the whole thing is a setup for Vickie to reiterate her point last week, that AJ is abusing her power and “making things personal”, (GOSH A GM HAS NEVER DONE THAT BEFORE), but also, she demands a personal apology from AJ. She then starts to make the most retarded, already dated, shitty parody of the stupid Clint Eastwood/Chair thing that happened this last weekend. Thankfully it’s cut short, and never discussed again, as AJ comes out, and admits that the WWE Board of Directors have said she cannot place her hands on any of the WWE Talent, Staff, or Referees.

Vickie then embarrasses and humiliates AJ by demanding she apologize again after she already had. Then uses the whole “Board of Directors Mandate” thing, to insult AJ to her face, condescend to her, and then ends up actually slapping her in the face TWICE, knowing AJ can’t do anything about it in retaliation. It actually was pretty goddamned horrible, and made me feel for AJ again. I kept expecting AJ to announce her sudden resigning, and to kick the crap out of her, but instead she just takes it, accepting defeat.The crowd went insane the entire time, chanting SLAP HER, and USE THE CHAIR, right up until Vickie does her insane witch laugh out of the arena. AJ then grabs the chair, and smashes it against the ring floor in frustration. Really, I can’t blame her, and this segment went a long way towards endearing her to me again, whilst simultaneously making her appear somehow even more unhinged.

The main problem though, is that AJ has GM powers. Can’t she just fire Vickie? Or reprimand her for some reason? Or write her up for you know, assaulting the GM? C’mon girl, that Board of Directors thing goes both ways right? Right?

It’ll be okay girl. You smash that chair.

Despite Cena, this whole match was actually fairly long, and pretty damn decent. They opened up in ring like usual, and things proceed to spill to the outside of the ring, where surprisingly, Alberto Del Rio started to really dominate Cena, which was actually pretty surprising. At one point a LETS GO CENA/CENA SUCKS chant started up, and the interesting thing to note, is literally every single time that chant starts up, the LETS GO part is very high-pitched, and the CENA SUCKS part is significantly lower pitched. This is because only stupid kids are John Cena fans. Everyone else hates him.  Eventually, Cena tries to slam Del Rio through the announcer’s table, and tries dragging the steel steps over the table for a platform to suplex off of, but Del Rio counters it, and suplexes him through it instead. After a while, they end up heading backstage, and right as it looks like Cena is about to win, CM Punk shows up. Punk kicks Cena in the head, and rolls ADR on top of him, and surprise, surprise, Alberto Del Rio wins!

Punk then lifts up Cena, and slams his face into the hood of his a car. Punk kneels next to Cena, says the word “Respect”, hoists his belt in to the air, and Raw ends as we see that Paul Heyman is driving the car.

Which was supposed to be surprising, but it shouldn’t be SHOCKING to anyone who actually knows anything about wrestling, or pays attention to continuity, or you know, remembers anything that happened longer than a week ago. Last year, when Punk made his infamous “pipe bomb” shoot speech, he flat-out said he was Paul Heyman guy. In fact, that’s probably what got Paul Heyman back into the WWE scene. That and Brock Lesnar’s inability to talk on the mic, at all. Anyone who is surprised to see Mr. Paul E. Dangerously, and CM Punk, a wwECW alum, working together, is clearly just not paying attention, or is ignorant. I’m totally psyched for the whole damn thing, and even if WWE will keep straddling the line of Punk being a kinda sorta heel/tweener, if you have smark crowds like Chicago, you’re gonna have to change your storyline to reflect that. Period.

One funny side note, is that a fan had a sign saying “We Want Ambrose”, which made me laugh pretty hard. Keep waiting buddy.