Tag Archives: The Ryback

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OH.

OKAY THEN. WOW.

Well then. Moving on.

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

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

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

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

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

http://youtu.be/ecgPmHnLVk4

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh AJ. You’re wonderful. Just wonderful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fandango-Leg DropFandango-Pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

Tonight’s Raw opens up with Paul Heyman talking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh also hey! William Regal! Yay!

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

Hoo boy.
Hoo boy.

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

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

WWE Raw and Wrestlemania 29 Recap & Review 4/8/13

Tonight’s Raw follows Wrestlemania 29, the veritable Super Bowl of wrestling, so to speak. The thing about the WWE is that the Raw’s after WM are always more interesting because of their very nature of being directly after WM. It’s the “season premiere” in a way, and like any other serialized show, is generally when they introduce new story lines, characters, or themes to the show. It wasn’t surprising to me at all then that this Raw was one of the best ones in a very long time, partly due to the fact that it was booked really well, everyone was on their A-Game, and the crowd was hotter than hell. A lot of folks online were complaining about the quality of WM 29, and while I can see where they’re coming from I still enjoyed it immensely. Sometimes I wonder if Wrestlemania no longer holding the same “prestige” it once did for me is because I’m just older, or if it is directly because their product isn’t as good any more. It’s hard for me to objectively gauge, but I do know I can still enjoy sitting in a room of wrestling fans, cheering when the guys I want to win, win, and being shocked together by the surprises that came.

Some wanted Wrestlemania to be a heel turn-fest, and provide shocks and twists abound, along with whatever other incredibly specific thing they each wanted. What we got instead were a bunch of great stories told inside the ring, with a specific set of characters telling them well. So Cena didn’t turn heel, so what? His match with The Rock was still exciting, and even though I knew he was going to win it was still fun to watch. I know I’m a total smark and talk all the time about how certain payoffs should or shouldn’t happen, but that’s only when what’s being given is lackluster, or comes at the sacrifice of good wrestling. Last night at Wrestlemania, neither of those things were sacrificed. If you watched that whole 4 hour show and didn’t find yourself standing on your feet at least once, you’re just dead inside. That all being said, Raw tonight was damned amazing.

Wrestlemania
Not pictured: The most garish and tacky shirt of all time.

Raw opening with Cena was inevitable, and what I’m about to say may shock and worry you but rest assured it couldn’t any more than it did me. Frankly, I was glad to see it open with Cena. I KNOW I KNOW, IT’S NOT BIZARRO WORLD BUT HEAR ME OUT! Firstly, his character in the last 2 weeks has received a considerable and noteworthy change. That main change is the earnestness of his character. He’s confident now in a way that isn’t unearned, or at the very least, isn’t grating. He’s able to communicate that his weakness is his UNRELENTING URGE TO ALWAYS WIN FOREVER AT EVERYTHING. Unstoppable Terminator Death Machine Cena is a much more interesting character than Fake Underdog Cena. He doesn’t have to sell us any line of BS about overcoming the odds or any of that crap, he’s goddamned JOHN CENA and everyone knows he’s nigh impossible to beat. A guy who comes out and says “HEY I’M THE BEST, BECAUSE I AM” is someone who I can respect more than a guy who comes out and says “HEY AREN’T I GREAT, HERE I’LL SHOW YOU OVER AND OVER, TELL ME HOW GREAT I AM!” Him coming out tonight in the ugliest shirt possible, standing there amongst the very loud, very obvious boos (that Cole and Lawler were trying so desperately to pass off as a “mixed” reaction) was something to behold. Fittingly it’s not a heel turn for him, because he’s not really done anything bad, but it’s a spark of a new direction for his character to take, and that alone is a breath of fresh air for Cena. It looks like he’s slowly going in the direction towards being a heel, but I’d put money on him never actually turning. It doesn’t matter though at this point, because I’d still rather have Cena be the champion. Why? Because one is an annoying, arrogant, sexist, baby talking self-centered douche bag, and the other is an annoying, invincible, up until now mostly bland and boring self-centered douche bag. If I have to pick between douche bags, I’m gonna pick the one that doesn’t hate women. Period.

Firstly, HOLY CRAP BIG E LANGSTON IS FINALLY DOING SINGLES MATCHES ON RAW YAAAAYYY! Secondly, he’s not getting to use his own totally awesome music from NXT. BOOOOO!!!!! But it’s okay, because hopefully this means he’ll turn face and we’ll get to bring the maniac murdering machine who’s obsessed with the number 5 to Raw now! Lastly, he got to wrestle against Daniel Bryan! And they both looked great the whole time! I’m used to Raw opening with a lengthy promo, but when the promo is interesting and captivating, and is then followed up by great wrestling, well I’ll be darned, YOU JUST GONE DUN MADE YOU THERE A GOOD RASSLIN’ SHOW! Which is funny because all of the dirt sheet info is saying that The Rock was supposed to show up tonight, and start a feud with Brock Lesnar for reasons. Then he decided to just head home and all of it was scrapped at the last minute. If you ask me it sounds legit because the whole excuse for Rock not being there due to “injury” just smelled something rotten. Regardless of the reason, this Raw is the result of The Rock not showing up and everyone scrambling to tell a new story? Well done. Do this every week please?

If you’re one of the millions of people who ordered Wrestlemania yesterday you’re no doubt confused like me as to why you didn’t see the Intercontinental Championship defended. The reason was because it was, but it was on the Pre-show that they stream on YouTube online. I don’t know about you, but if you’re over at a friend’s house waiting for a 4 hours wrestling show to come on, drinking beers and grilling hotdogs, you’re not gonna bust out a laptop and have everyone huddle around for one pre-show match. I understand it’s purpose is to get people who were otherwise unconvinced to watch it on YouTube for free a bit, then decide to watch the rest on PPV. But if you’ve already ordered the PPV, why the hell can’t we watch it in HD on our tv’s, before the actual PPV starts? Why not just include it? I’ll never understand why it’s not included, but it isn’t, so that’s that.

All that being said however, I’m glad they repeated it tonight on Raw because Wade Barrett and The Miz have found their perfect complements to each other’s skill sets. The two of them know how to build up a great match and keep everyone guessing. I full expected The Miz to win this match and keep another long IC title reign, and when Barrett finally smashed Miz’s face in with his Bullhammer finisher (that he finally got to look amazing instead of utter s**t!), I was sold on tonight being a great Raw. I’m only going to say that about 3 or 4 more times in this review, but believe me each time when I say it was great.

This was a match that had me on my toes for 2 reasons. The first was I love seeing Alberto Del Rio demolish either Swagger or Zeb Colter, because it’s just great. Zeb Colter using the rampant jingoism in every wrestling fan against them, to get them to inadvertently cheer for him was a brilliant heel move.  This feud is one I could see going on for a while, and escalating into something great, or, I could see it ending quickly in the limelight of what happened after the match ended. Which leads me to my second reason:

DOLPH ZIGGLER CASHING IN THAT MONEY IN THE BANK AND THE WHOLE DAMN CROWD MARKING OUT FOR IT LIKE IT WAS BIGGER THAN JESUS’ SECOND COMING HOLY F***!!!

I cannot stress enough just how awesome this crowd was at tonight’s Raw, and how special they made it by just being so into it that by proxy it made you even more into it. I can only imagine how magical it must have felt to have been there. Jerry Lawler “mishearing” the audience as saying “We want Colter” was particularly stupid though. Everybody friggin’ loves Dolph Ziggler already. He’s the top of the talent you’ve got and the future of the biz. Let him be loved by the people. It’s amazing. These matches were amazing. This whole night was amazing so far. You can tell when Raw is good because I don’t have much to say other than really liking it. It’s when it’s bad that all of a sudden I can’t shut up.

And then somehow, impossibly, as if things couldn’t get even MORE exciting, The Undertaker comes out! Just the presence of Undertaker is enough to get one excited, but after his top-notch match against CM Punk last night, it was more than enough to get me going. He looked so good that it convinced me he could easily go another 4 years and make the streak go all the way to 25 at the very least, if not 30. At this point I really don’t see anyone being able to ever beat him, and that’s a good thing. HIs streak means a lot to the WWE, and whoever comes to finish it off better bring a hell of a lot of gravitas and meaning to it. Whether next year it’s going to be Punk again, or Kane or Cena or whoever, it’s something I’m looking forward to. There’s only two people I can see being the ones to end The Streak, and the most obvious is Cena. He’s the Unstoppable Force to Taker’s Immovable Object. But concerning story and character arcs, it has to be Kane. He’s the only one who should end it, and the day they announce him has the one to go against Undertaker is the one day I actually put money against Undertaker at Wrestlemania. From now on, it’s clear sailing on Taker from here until then.

But that’s not it, we’ve now got The Shield showing up, challenging Undertaker, and my heart nearly skipped a beat! What are these guy’s agenda? Why Undertaker? Furthermore, if Kane and Daniel Bryan didn’t show up to back Taker up, would they have been able to do their triple power bomb of destruction on him? With the way The Shield have been going so far, it almost wouldn’t surprise me. Seeing Kane and Daniel Bryan come out was so great too. Any time characters support each other mutually for reasons that make sense, especially emotional ones like the support over the loss of a loved one, gets to me. Kane is THERE for Undertaker, and Daniel Bryan is THERE for Kane! Amazing!

Of course though, it couldn’t all be perfect. There had to be at least once match that slowed everything down so we could all catch our breath. As much as I love 3MB any and all of their coolness was utterly negated by the inherent lameness of Zack Ryder, Santino and R-Truth. Which is a shame because with the exception of Santino those guys used to be really funny and interesting. Then they just got lamer, and lamer until you didn’t care about them anymore. Then they both just became annoying and made you wonder why you ever even cared about them to begin with.  Santino is the worst, so I can’t really hate on him too much because that’d be like kicking a deaf, dumb, blind weasel in the throat that was wearing a green sock on its paws and pretending to be threatening. The dude is such a non-wrestler that I could not see him for months and not even think a single thing about him, or even notice his absence. Oh wait, that happened. It just did. This is the first time I’ve seen Santino in months. And he won using his stupid Cobra finisher that obviously does nothing. There goes my theory about 3MB slowly amassing strength from all their combined defeats. If Heath Slater can’t kick out of a finger poke, he can’t kick out of goddamned anything.

This match is a great example of a perfectly serviceable match between Sheamus and Orton, with Sheamus Sheamusing around and Orton Ortoning right back. The both of them doing their boring invincible white guy thing back and forth. It’s also a great example of this crowd turning a relatively boring match into an exciting one, as they brought it to life with different chants and reactions that made Sheamus and Orton actually put some effort into their stuff, rather than just going through the repeated old motions that they’re used to. By the time Big Show stormed out and demolished them both I found myself surprised rather than cynical, simply because the crowd got me into it. Guys, the crowd got me into a Sheamus and Randy Orton match. That’s. In. Credible.

It was a really good Raw. I’m telling you.

God I love Fandango. The guy actually can totally wrestle, so everybody who chants that he can’t can just shut it. Plus watching him beat down Kofi Kingston using the ART OF DANCE, AND WRESTLING was goddamned amazing. Sure Jericho had to come and ruin it all because he’s upset that Fandango beat him last night at WM. Listen Jericho, Fandango beat you fair and square. A roll up pin is still a pin, and just means you fell for the most obvious and old hat trick in the book. You have nobody to blame but yourself for losing, so why are you acting like something was stolen from you? I like Jericho but he’s not above me calling him out when he starts acting like every other hypocritical jerk that’s supposed to be a face wrestler in the WWE. If you don’t like Fandango, why not try besting him in a dancing competition, or just prove to him you’re the better wrestler by issuing a rematch? Running out and interrupting his beat down of Kofi Kingston is not the way to my heart Jericho. IT IS NOT.

This was a match that got bumped from the Wrestlemania card on Sunday, and it’s a shame. My lecherous cousins, friends and I all were looking forward to seeing the return of the Bella twins to the WWE in a wrestling capacity, if only for their looks. Like I said, we’re not the greatest, most classy bunch of men. Anyhow, it’s a shame because I’m sure the match would have been better then than it was tonight. It was by no means bad, but I’m so not into “Tons Of Funk” as Tensai and Funkasaurus have been rebranded, that it really makes me sick. Like I said before, there’s really no logical reason at all to dislike Team Rhodes Scholars, and if you do there’s something wrong with you. But it was really nice to see Naomi and Cameron actually get to wrestle for a few moments. Made me remember when the WWE had an actual women’s divisio… A woman’s do-what? A what’s division? What was I saying? I can’t remember anymore, because the WWE CLEARLY DOESN’T WANT ME TO.

Mark Hentry vs Cena means of course I’d like to see Mark Henry win, but I know I won’t. It’s Cena. He’s in this new attitude where he’ll still let you take that same challenge against him, but now he’s so confident he’ll win that actually fulfill his duty to enact that challenge and actually have it happen that night. The best thing about it was the fake out they’re trying to do, by having Cena win in the “cowardly” way by count out. It would seem they’re trying very hard to create some traction with his character and give some new life to him, and having him win in this “gray” way, (for Cena at least) is a surefire step up from Mr. Five Moves Of Doom. Seeing Mark Henry angrily World’s Strongestly Slam him into the ground and hold up the belt triumphantly was great as well. What was greater was how into it the crowd was! They wanted Cena’s BLOOD! When The Ryback finally showed up and took out Henry, everyone was going insane and it made it all that much better.

Then the predictable thing happened, where The Ryback went to offer a hand to help Cena up. A wrestler acting honorably is something you don’t often get seen raucously booed into oblivion, but the people at the show there tonight hated Cena and wanted to see him suffer. So it was pretty jarring to see what I’m guessing is ostensibly a heel turn, with The Ryback viciously attacking Cena, be cheered as if it was some glorious, honorable display! I’ve never seen a potential heel turn so widely and resoundingly cheered, that it might have totally ruined his heel turn! If they want The Ryback to be hated or booed, they’re gonna have to try again, because tonight at least, the people certainly didn’t hate him for taking on Cena. It was amazing you guys.

It was a really good Raw.

WWE Monday Night Recap & Review 2/25/13

Tonight’s Raw was a deluge of things that are the main reasons I always feel guilty and ashamed to watch Raw in front of people who aren’t wrestling fans. Wrestling when at it’s best, tells stories effectively unlike any other medium, and can be one of the best examples of a medium that mixes athleticism, acting, timing, comedy, drama and does it all with goddamned entrance music. Unfortunately tonight was not one of those episodes. Tonight was dominated by nearly 3 hours of nonsense, trailers for movies I don’t care about, stupid segments, redundant segments, and inane, unfunny topical jokes. On top of that, for reasons that seem entirely frivolous, they admitted Donald Trump into the WWE Hall of fame, so you know the world is going to hell and we’re all going to die miserable deaths in flames.

But instead of everything around us cascading into perdition, we get the second worst thing instead, which is of course, two old men fighting for no real reason. One old man in particular,who asked for the fight but is still coming out half crippled and pretending like he’s the victim of the other old man after being attacked by the other old man. Then unsurprisingly it’s interrupted by Brock Lesnar, who shows up for no real reason I can think of other than for Triple H to show up. I couldn’t care less about them fighting, or their feud. All I know is every time Brock Lesnar or Triple H show up, the show becomes worse for it. Unerringly every single time they pop back in, there’s 5 repeats of the same long promo, or recaps of stuff we’ve just seen and re-watched over and over through the course of the show. Tonight was no different, only it was trailers for dumb movies. I think it’s somewhere in their contracts that if Lesnar or Triple H show up, Raw has to be bogged down with meaningless, repetitive bullsh*t.

Herein lies the eternal conundrum of Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler always looks at his best, and is the most beneficial overall, when he’s losing. He makes other guys look goddamned fearsome, and he does it so well to the untrained eye you’d almost absolutely swear his opponent was the one responsible for how good he looked that night. The thing is, it’s all Ziggler. His ability to sell and bump has been much ballyhooed on the internet, and with good reason. He makes everybody in the ring (not named Kofi Kingston), look better in the ring. Especially big ugly hoss guys like The Ryback. The Ryback has more or less been boring since his push to Hell In A Cell last year, but tonight he seemed absolutely on fire, and that was because he finally had some excellent assistance from Ziggler with that. The match between them was an excellent example of how you can make a big strong guy look EVEN STRONGER against someone who has the talent for losing that Ziggler does.

But that’s the issue, Ziggler looks good winning sure, but he looks GREAT losing. It’s probably the reason why they’ve had him hold onto the Money In The Bank Contract for so long, and it’s probably the reason he’s stuck in scylla and charybdis with his contendership for the title. If you’ve got a guy who is that obviously talented, of course you want to push him and have him win and become champion, but when he’s so good at making everyone else look better, how do you balance his character development? Have him job out too often and people stop caring, have him win too much and you end up with a guy who wins but somehow isn’t as impressive as his opponent was in every match. It’s a paradox I’m not sure how they’re going to get around, and it’s one I don’t see going away any time soon.

Seriously? This match is 2 minutes long and for good goddamned reason. Mark Henry has nothing to fear about stupid Khali, and his utter demolishing of him prove it. There’s not much to say about this match because one of these wrestlers is the World’s Strongest Man, the inductor into the hall of pain and the ender of WORLDS, and the other is a tall indian guy who can’t bend his damn knees or walk properly. There’s not even a question about the thing.

There’s been a lot of talk about Jack Swagger’s new gimmick, and it offending people, but sadly it’s not for any of the right reasons. It’s offending Tea Partiers because they see it as a cartoonish caricature that’s meant to reflect the worst of their side of the political spectrum, and to have that on their wrestling show is JUST NOT RIGHT! Well the thing is, they’re right. It IS a cartoonish caricature that reflects the worst of the Right, because that’s called goddamned satire and it’s a mainstay in any basic sort of storytelling that wants to make any type of compelling story or commentary about nearly anything. It’s one thing to have a character randomly act racist and do awful things and be cheered for it (Sheamus), but it’s another to create a new one as a representation of an ideology and way of thinking that is arguably, inexcusably wrong. Call it a caricature all you want, but I live in California, and I’m sure anyone who lives on a border state can attest, people like Zeb Colter exist. They exist in the THOUSANDS, and despite mostly being privileged white people who’ve never had to fight for a citizenship in their lives, they feel as if their rights are being trampled on and their freedoms threatened. They use the guise of politics and are just carpet bagging their misguided, racist beliefs behind causes that don’t really matter, and all the while do it under the claim that they’re just “not being PC”.

There’s a big difference between “Not being PC”, and being a closet racist, and one has to do with the manipulation of language and other with hate. In this scenario, thankfully, the one with hate in his heart is the bad guy, and our hero is the proud immigrant mexican-american man of color, who is combatting not only a stupid, misled, misguided, jingoistic nationalist, but combatting what is essentially a figurehead for racism itself. It’s a story worth telling, it’s a good story, and it’s one I want to see finish. Let’s see it finish the way it should, with good triumphing over evil, yeah? Or do I need to remind you that racism is bad? Hey, it is the WWE, so you never know.

Here's a picture of AJ, because she's gorgeous and I miss her.
Here’s a picture of AJ, because she’s gorgeous and I miss her.

Hey look it’s Randy Orton beating a mid-card level champion again for no real reason!  Why does this keep happening? Why is Randy Orton seemingly above everyone in the mid-card, but below the main title picture? Could it be because he’s inexplicably popular despite being objectively boring? Could it be because he’s an uninteresting wrestler with a variation of a jawbreaker that he doesn’t really pull off convincingly? Could it be because he’s just kind of floundering right now. Let’s give him something to do other than beating up the champions the WWE doesn’t care about.

(Due to the infuriating nature of the next two segments of Raw, I refuse to write about them. In the interest of fairness to you, the reader, I decided to have them written about by someone else. My friend Dan is an accomplished writer, who understands the intricate nature of dramatic tension, literary criticism, and basic storytelling. He’s even been published for his writing, and currently pursues an actual, legitimate career in freelance writing as well as working on his own novel. Unfortunately he knows next to nothing about wrestling at all, and as such would qualify perfectly to become a WWE writer, as that is the only explanation for the next two segments that will be covered in this recap & review. He is also a living sex-god.*)

*his words, not mine.

Hi, I’m Dan, and I have an innate ability to sense James Woods. It’s been described as eerie or “gypsy-like” by some of my contemporaries. Some nights, I can feel James Woods; I suspect it’s when he’s in LA, sleeping on someone’s couch in a mansion, or driving a hot rod down the streets of Santa Monica, looking for tail. Why bring up James Woods in a RAW review? Because I saw him. I saw him in the 2013 inductee video, wherein Donald Trump was made the inductee of the year. This, personally, with no foreknowledge of WWE or any sort of shenanigans with Vince McMahon, still reeked of just politics. Just pandering. It was a handshake in a car park with a greasy manila envelope full of dirty, dirty bills. You know who would go in a WWE hall of fame? Probably a wrestler. I can’t speak for certain on these things. I don’t know this world. My first exposure to it was an old guy screaming WOO and attacking a suit coat*. But even I can spell political hand jobbing.

*see my old review of the particular episode he means here.

When I was going to college, I had a roommate who was an Englishman (a terrible, terrible mess of a human being, slovenly and foul), and a drinking buddy who was an Irishman (also a terrible wreck, but a fine drinker and an upstanding…whatever he was), and whenever the two would fight, it would degenerate into some sort of heavily accented, over-enunciated silliness, wherein I would stare, confused and despairing, as they’d yell at each other over…I don’t know, which sheep parts to put in pie, and whether using a toothbrush made you a protestant. It was miserable. But not as miserable as watching Sheamus, or whatever this gargantuan ginger baboon is named, strut around in an ill-fitting tuxedo while trying to call someone out. I don’t even know what to think of it. He looks like the sun turned away from him. His hair looks like it came from a particularly unmedicated child’s coloring book. And Wade Barrett, whoever he was, stepped in, had his nose insulted, and dived out before the ugly ginger had a chance to kick at him with a “bro” or “brogue” or…I don’t know. Here’s a hint, Sheamus; you can’t kick high in a suit. It’s tailored. You’re going to rip it. Idiot.

(Thanks a lot Dan. I wouldn’t have been able to write about those segments at all without dying of an embolism brought on by absolute pure rage.)

Now that R-Truth is back, and apparently as a face, we’re back to seeing him do that weird crotch thrusting dance he does in the middle of matches. Only now he’s suddenly not crazy any more, and so far we’ve been given no explanation as to why Little Jimmy is gone, and I have feeling we won’t. WWE does this all the time, where they’ll just try to brush some weird stupid thing under the rug, and hope we all forget about it. The sad thing is it almost always works with most audiences, who have the memory of a goldfish and the attention span of a squirrel. It’s more or less a miracle any time they try to use continuity or have reasonable explanations for the amazing amounts of insanity that happen on a weekly basis.

In a fledgling attempt to remind everyone that the WWE still has a tag division, we’re seeing Team Hell No fight The Primetime Players. In this case it’s with the gimmick stipulation of Daniel Bryan with a bag on his head, and Kane with his hand tied behind his back. We all know that the Team Hell No  break up is coming, and things like this certainly seem to drag it out quite a bit. The only problem is I don’t see any up and coming team taking the belts away from them. Nor has the “I AM THE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS” storyline ever really be settled with its natural conclusion (“WE are the Tag Team Champion!”), and what with Team Rhodes Scholars disbanding, Primetime Players being beaten, and The Uso’s being ignored, all we’re left with is Primo and Epico by my count. Which takes us right back to 2011 back when the Tag Titles didn’t mean anything and were won by Primo and Epico at a house show, that was lately quickly shown on an episode of Raw like a dirty bathroom porno tape. The whole division was built back so brilliantly only to be totally and utterly ruined again by falling apart into irrelevance. Guys, tag team wrestling can be AMAZING. Seriously! It’s one of the easiest damn ways to get an audience excited, but somehow each time I see one on Raw it’s impossibly boring.

You have to make the matches interesting and fun if you want audiences to care, and that starts by caring about the division itself. Which the WWE doesn’t apparently. So… Crap.

The Shield: Yo we’re The Shield! You should respect and like us because we’re all impressive wrestlers who work together efficiently, have coherent and distinct personalities, beat everyone we face and generally are pretty damn boss!

Sheamus & Randy Orton: WE DON’T LIKE YOU HERE’S A SNEAK ATTACK HAHAHHAA WE’RE AWESOME AREN’T WE!

WWE Fans: Yeah! You are!

Me: WHHHHYYYYYYYYYY??????

I’ve already said what I was going to say about Jack Swagger earlier, and I’ve already said plenty about how disastrously disappointing The Miz is now. This match leaves me without much to feel other than a sense of impatience, because we all know Jack Swagger is going to win, since he’s on a push right now, and The Miz is just The Miz and he’s Mizzing around being all Mizzy. I’ve run out of things to say about The Miz lately because he hasn’t done anything new or interesting since royally screwing up the figure four leg lock for all time. What’s left to say now? Good job Swagger at becoming relevant?

Ugh. I hate to have to type this, honestly, I do. I hate to have to say it, but I have to give credit when credit is due, and that’s that when faced against an opponent he gives a shit about, John Cena can work the ring really damn well. He can make spots work beautifully, and when paired up with a smaller, quicker wrestler like Punk, they complement each other really well. Despite having seen this match a bunch of times, all exactly alike, and I mean EXACTLY alike, right down to the same counters, it’s still a good match. It’s not the 40 minute powerhouse at Money In The Bank from 2011, but it’s a damn good match any time it’s booked, and every time I see it I find myself getting lost in the majesty of good wrestling, and just want to see Punk win. It makes me stop thinking about who is “supposed” to win, or any of that other smarky crap, and just watch the damn match. This is what wrestling should be all of the time, but it isn’t, at least not in the WWE. It’s one of those matches that at first, I thought I had the ending predicted hands down, (tie, leading to a triple threat match at Wrestlemania), but sure enough it ended in a way that surprised me, due to my own gullibility/cynicism depending on how you look at it. Yes this is me saying I was surprised to see Cena win this match, and cleanly I might add. Which is another thing I hate to have to type, but I do, and I am.

It makes sense, i get it. They want Rock VS Cena 2: Twice In A Lifetime, and they want to show everyone that Cena can beat Punk fair & square, and have him become Super-Cena properly once again. He’ll beat The Rock, he’ll win the championship, and from there it’s anybody’s best guess as to where things will go. Or maybe they’ll just keep having The Rock show up every year to fight Cena and win back the championship and the main event at Wrestlemania is just Cena VS The Rock until we all die of rage induced aneurysms. Ugh.