Tonight’s Raw opens with a brief recap from last week, showing CM Punk issuing a challenge to John Cena, on the condition that Cena admit Punk is the best in the world. Cena refuses, because he thinks he’s the best, and made some lame ass pseudo inspirational rant about “always believing in yourself” and all that hokum he always spouts. After Cena abruptly left, Punk turned his attention towards Jerry Lawler, and demanded he apologize for his remark at Raw 1000, where he claimed that Punk had “turned his back” on the WWE universe, for attacking The Rock. Lawler apologized, but then “couldn’t say” that Punk was the best in the world, when asked to, despite having said and agreed with that notion dozens of times pre-Raw 1000. It’s ridiculously transparent how Lawler is insanely pro-face, in spite of any and all reason. Michael Cole may be his heel opposite, but he’ll occasionally provide logical reasoning behind why he likes the heels of the company. Anyhow, after refusing to admit CM Punk was the best in the world, he rudely bumped into Punk while exiting the ring, and Punk, in a fit of anger for the sign of enormous disrespect, kicked Lawler in the head. Let it be understood, that Jerry Lawler, (kayfabe) deserves this. He’s a terrible commentator. He says idiotic things all the time, makes no insightful remarks, and constantly promotes the faces, regardless of what their terrible, terrible actions may or may not be. Punk feuding with Lawler is supposed to make us think he’s turned heel, but all it’s done is endear him to me more.
I plan to use a couple more of these throughout this article, because goddamn. It’s true.
Following that recap, Jerry Lawler enters the ring, leaving his commentary table, and begins to speak about the events of the last few weeks, tell his side of the story, and then asks for an apology from Punk. Punk shows up, (sporting a new buzz cut, indicating a change of character. Seriously, his hair is almost always indicative of his character. It’s weird), and refuses to apologize to Lawler, defending his justifiable beat down of The Rock, and points out he never “turned his back” on anyone, and that the only person who did, was Lawler, who turned his back on Punk. He continues to explain this to Lawler, and gives the most backhanded apology in the world, slamming Lawler’s entire wrestling career, mentioning his feud with Andy Kaufman, the fact that Lawler has never been champion, and his loss to Michael Cole at Wrestlemania. It was pretty damn entertaining to see Punk rail into Lawler, and watching him stand there, stone faced, trying not to cry and/or attack Punk was pretty awesome.
Punk continues destroying Lawler, and ends up in a roundabout way challenging him to a fight, after seeing Lawler’s sad/angry face. Lawler regurgitates what he said earlier, about looking for an apology, and not a fight. Punk continues to call him a pussy, in so many words. He then says Lawler will leave embarrassed tonight one way to the other, either embarrassed from the beating he’d receive in the match between him and Punk, or embarrassed that he wouldn’t compete at all. Punk leaves, and Lawler says that “He’ll think about it.”
After that, we return right to a wrestling match between Jack Swagger and The Ryback. Swagger has been jobbing pretty consistently for a while now, and Michael Cole even mentions this fact, in a kayfabe manner by referring to his “losing streak”. They’ve been working on making The Ryback a bit more touchable lately, by having whoever he fights gain momentum in the middle of the match, which Swagger achieves, almost getting the Ankle Lock on him for a moment. The Ryback then gets the upper hand quickly, and amidst the cheers of his fans, who alternatively chant “GOLDBERG”, and The Ryback’s catchphrase, “FEED ME MORE”, he lands his falling suplex finisher. Which I don’t think has an actual name yet. It’s just a move he does that Michael Cole or whoever is watching him just comment on how “impressive” it is. So perhaps his finisher is called “The Impressive Finisher”, which is what I shall refer to it from now on. Seriously, I watch Raw and Smackdown every week, and unless I missed something, I have no idea what it’s called. So, The Ryback pins Swagger, and leaves the ring pumping his arms. Swagger sits outside the ring, grimacing in pain, probably thinking about quitting and joining TNA where he’ll have a chance to actually get utilized properly, and Jerry Lawler continues to say how he’s thinking about having the match with Punk or not.
Back from another break we go right into a Divas match. Natalya and Layla are actually two of the more talented female wrestlers from their small collection, and seeing them wrestle is something I actually would like to see more. Vickie Guerrero interrupts, and says she has an announcement to make, and that the match better end quickly so she could say it. The match starts, and we’re treated to a really decent match between the two. It’s actually pretty refreshing to see Natalya wrestle for a change, instead of relegated to being The Farting Girl on backstage skits on Smackdown. She’s the damned daughter of Jim Neidhart, the founder of the Hart foundation, and niece to Bret GODDAMNED Hart, so along with Punk, she deserves some respect. Seeing her attempt the Sharpshooter was a great moment, and if Layla wasn’t as talented and as likable as she is, I would have been really bummed to see her counter out of it. Thankfully, Layla picks up the win without using a roll up or small package pin, because that’s what they ALWAYS use to end Divas matches. She hits Natalya with a roundhouse kick, and pins her, and Vickie enters the ring.
Vickie says that AJ Lee has been abusing her power, by citing the example of last week’s Raw, where Jericho and Ziggler had a match, with the stipulation being that if Jericho won, he’d get Ziggler’s MITB contract, and if Ziggler won, Jericho would lose his CAREER contract. Vickie argues this is an unfair stipulation to the match for her to make, which it totally is. Only Vickie says that the MITB contract part is the unfair bit. If you ask me, a career contract, and a championship contract are not equal at all, and regardless of the side you take, Vickie has a solid point, that it is an abuse of power. She then publicly begs the WWE Board of Directors to put her back in the GM seat, and sack AJ, which prompts AJ to arrive.
AJ skips out, doing her usual cutesy-crazy affectations, hops into the ring, then slaps, and beats Vickie down to the floor. Pretty much solidifying Vickie’s argument about AJ being out of control and power-hungry. Vickie then runs out of the arena crying while… god… AJ bites her finger all sexily and…
Ahem. She then composes herself and walks out. Basically, as much as I want to love and support AJ, she’s been a very middle of the road, typical GM that has done nothing interesting or new, and I’d rather see her wrestle, because she’s pretty damn good, and that suit she wears doesn’t flatter her at all.
Then we get subjected to a DX/Triple H video package. I’ve got nothing against DX per se, I’m just sick of video packages, and Triple H. The thought of having to see him address the events of Summerslam are so boring to me, I couldn’t care less. For those who didn’t see Summerslam, in a nutshell, Brock Lesnar beat the shit out of Triple H, and made him tap out. The crowd then shouted “YOU TAPPED OUT”, and “NA NA NA NA HEY HEY HEY GOODBYE”‘d him out of the arena, rather than the whole appreciative last stand thing, that he was clearly going for, or expecting. People are sick of him, and his stupidity. At least, the Summerslam audience was. Then of course, Brock Lesnar quit the WWE AGAIN, because that’s what he does, he’s a goddamn quitter.
After that, we see that AJ has ordered Daniel Bryan to take Anger Management classes, and we see a brief skit where Daniel Bryan attends Anger Management. What transpires, is one of the strangest, but funniest skit’s I’ve seen in a while. Daniel Bryan sits in the Anger Management circle, and states that he has no anger issues, and couldn’t be calmer. In walks a young boy, wearing a goat mask. Bryan walks up to the child, and begins NO NO NOing him, upon seeing the goat mask. He then asks who set the whole thing up, and demands the boy take off the goat mask, by screaming at him. The Anger Management counselor says that the boy is his son, and plays a goat in his school play. The boy takes off the mask, and we see he’s crying. Daniel Bryan then looks genuinely sad and confused, and takes a seat. At the very least, he’s working through his issues right? I love the idea that Daniel Bryan now has this pavlovian reaction to all goats now, and that all you’d need to do to distract him is hold up a picture of a goat. I keep thinking about him trying to watch TV and accidentally turning on Animal Planet, and catching a show about goats, and then raging out and destroying his whole living room, and slapping the YES-Lock on his dog.
Back to the ring, we see Jerry Lawler step back in, and speak. He defends his wrestling past, by pointing out the legends of wrestling he’s fought, and while he agrees with the other assertions Punk made, that Lawler is immature, never been champion, and feuded with a comedian, he tries to use those things inexplicably, to defend himself. After that, he accepts CM Punk’s challenge, and says he’ll fight Punk tonight. The crowd cheers, ostensibly in support of Lawler, but I’d like to think they want to see Punk destroy him.
After another commercial break, John Cena appears. Which was kinda shocking, because John Cena showing up, without being called out, or having something to get off his chest, simply to wrestle in a non-main event match, is pretty uncommon now. The biggest bummer was simply that the match up between him and Miz is so disparate, it might as well not even happen. The Miz has only just started to become a great mid card, IC champion, but having him up against Robo-Cena seems like a foregone conclusion. However, Miz does give Cena a serious run for his money. If anything, the whole match built up Miz to get him over, since he dominated the whole thing, only with Cena doing his usual infinite Robo-Cena kick out, to the same as usual, goddamned shift into the 5 Moves of Doom, and his usual last-minute wrap up win. This match, despite Miz’s efforts to make it interesting, is a perfect example of what is wrong with John Cena. Every single match of his is like this. He gets his ass kicked, never sells anything, miraculously kicks out over and over, does 5 moves at the end, and wins. He’s boring. I can’t stand seeing him on my tv any more. It’s sickening that he’s the face of this company. Sickening.
Back to Daniel Bryan, we see him sitting through the Anger Management session. He sits there listening to some guy gripe about his boss, and his asked his opinion. He then expresses his, pretty solid feelings on how he’s been unfairly treated by his boss, who is his former girlfriend/ex-fiancee, who left his at the alter on live tv, puts him in a match with her demonic, pyrokinetic, psychopath pseudo-boyfriend, which he still won, and she forced him into Anger Management regardless. If anything, I’d say he has a right to be mad. The Counselor says he just got a text from the last patient who had yet to show up at the session, and of course, in walks Kane, in full wrestling gear, fire mask and all. Considering that the rest of the people there were normal, everyday folks, in plain clothes, Daniel Bryan included, it was especially surreal to see Kane walk in, in his full garb. Then again, the idea of Kane showing up in civilian clothes would be even stranger. Does this mean that Kane has a cell phone? That he texts people? What’s his data plan? Can you think of him dealing with AT&T customer service? Like if he gets put on hold too many times he just makes fire shoot out of the speaker on their side of the phone? Or worse, does he drunkenly sext AJ? I bet they’d have really weird booty calls.
I’m liking Heath Slater more and more each week. I’m hating Santino more and more every time I see him. Their match was pretty incidental. The crowd even chanted BORING at one point. The only highlight, if you could call it that, was seeing The Cobra react to Aksana showing up, with random “sexy” saxophone music to accompany her. The Cobra then attacks Heath Slater, and Santino pins Slater for the win, with the Cobra keeping its “eyes” on Aksana.
The entire concept of the Cobra being “horny” for Aksana, is just TOO over the top weird for me, because it just makes me think that Santino is either A.) possessed ala Idle Hands by cobra demons, and his limbs really are independent of his own free will, or B.) he’s got the strangest form of Dr. Strangelove Hand Syndrome, or C.) He’s just an insane person, and really needs help. No matter what way you put it, the Cobra is stupid. It always is stupid. It always has been. It always will be. It’s the Bret Hart of stupid gimmicks. Take it away Punk!
After Funkasaurus and Sin Cara’s lengthy intros, Damien Sandow comes out, and announces that he has finally found a colleague of his that he can have an intelligent conversation with, and of course it’s Cody Rhodes. The two of them make their way down the ramp, making an excellent job of showcasing their chemistry together as a team, and their insults towards Funkasaurus and Sin Cara all worked really well, and for the first time in a long time, I was excited to see the dynamic between two former single competitors, as a tag team.
Unfortunately, the match wasn’t really long enough to see them do anything together, or give them a chance to show us if their obvious and immediate character chemistry, worked in ring, but they’re definitely a team I’d look forward to seeing work together again, which is more than I can say for most of the singles-to-tag team teams. Basically, Funkasaurus managed to stomp down Cody Rhodes, while Sin Cara isolated Damien Sandow from hitting Funkasaurus’ magical weak spot (aka the knee), and Funkasaurus picked up the win after a huge splash. Funkasaurus and Sin Cara are an interesting duo together, in that they’re the exact opposite end of the spectrum, from Sandow and Rhodes, in terms of my interest in them working together. While I love Sandow and always appreciate more and more Cody Rhodes, I find myself increasingly disliking Funkasaurus and Sin Cara each time I see them. They’re the bizarro world opposites of each other in that way for me.
Back again to the third and final Anger Management video package, we see Kane being asked to share his feelings with the group. He is asked to take off his mask, and complies. When asked to share, he goes on to give the most hilarious, and frigging epic recall of his entire characters history, which when compiled altogether that way, is so absurd, it’s comedy genius. He even at one point gets meta and references how his motives for inexplicably torturing Pete Rose are entirely unexplained. The whole thing had me dying with laughter, simply that everything he said actually happened, and seeing the WWE reference continuity in this way, was so brilliant and funny. If the WWE wants to become more continuity conscious, I have no problem with them doing it this way. Refer to it, admit it’s kinda silly, but hold onto it, rather than ignore it. Plus, seeing Kane talk about his past relationships will never not be a laugh riot.
Kofi Kingston and R-Truth come out, and Kofi heads over to take commentary for the duration of the match. Why? Because I guess R-Truth and him are super-duper best friends now, and can never have matches without the other being present. I know they’re trying hard to get them over as an actual tag team, but when they’re STILL both referred to by their full names, and you know they had relatively long singles careers, it’s hard to accept them, because man, they STILL don’t have any chemistry. What was great though, was seeing Daniel Bryan enter the ring, making his entrance, trying to control himself, and only silently saying “no, no, no”, to himself, rather than his angry, defiant NO’s to the crowd. Not only that, he fist bumped R-Truth to begin the match! After a few minutes in, he even attempted to fist bump Little Jimmy, signifying either his true descent into madness, or his ability to overcome hardship and control himself. Or both.
After a minute or so of wrestling, their match spills to the outside of the ring, where R-Truth picks up a mic, and starts speaking to Little Jimmy. He answers Little Jimmy’s questions by saying YES over and over, which awakens the (American) dragon inside Daniel Bryan. Daniel Bryan starts losing it, and scream NO at the audience until he is counted out. He then realizes to his horror, he’s lost the match, when he sees Kofi congratulate Truth on his win. Bryan then violently starts kicking the steps to the ring, and parades around screaming NO. Try as he might, he just can’t escape his catchphr- I mean anger. Hey, if this whole Anger Management angle gets us the calm, cool, collected Daniel Bryan back, or god willing, the amazing WWE version of Heel Bryan Danielson, like he was for a few months post MITB 2011 and Pre-YES YES YES, I’m all for it.
Triple H finally comes out to talk about his Summerslam match and whether or not he’ll be quitting/retiring/whatever. I’m so sick of talking about Triple H, so I’ll keep this as brief as possible. Triple H comes, fake cast on and everything, to a pretty big cheer from the crowd (ugh), and says, in a nutshell, that he’ll be retiring. He says it in the most longwinded fashion possible.
Dude, you let your own hubris ruin yourself by challenging a stupid human wrecking ball with a flat top. You’re the one who demanded the referee ignore the rules, and you’re the one who goaded him into even having the match in the first place, when Brock and Paul Heyman both warned you repeatedly for your stupid actions, saying that you”d get destroyed, and you did. You have nobody to blame but yourself. Just retire forever. Work behind the scenes. Hire more sucky mediocre talent like Sin Cara. Whatever. Just get your stupid wrinkled brow and ponytail off my television, and stay off. Please. Accept this dumb crowds applause and goodbye pop, which you were hoping for, but didn’t get, at Summerslam. Goodbye forever Triple H.
After that horribly long pill to swallow, we’re treated to Dolph Ziggler tricking the audience by coming out to Jericho’s music. He then says Jericho is gone forever, and walks to the ring. ADR makes his usual entrance. Between these two guys, I always love to them see in the ring, and whichever of them become the new WHC champion, I’m fine with. ADR is the #1 Contender, but Ziggler still has his MITB contract, so this is potentially setting up a future feud between them. Of course, Randy Orton still exists, so blaeaaeeegghhh. Also, Sheamus.
This is another example of the singles competitors being forced into tag teams, that just doesn’t work again. Tag Team matches can BE amazing, when your teams actually have chemistry, a move set that complements each other, and maybe even a good gimmick or team name. But watching these guys, all struggle to make their spots work, comes off as rushed, forced, and worst of all, boring. Actually, the worst thing was Sheamus and Orton, who both supposed to be faces, cheating to win. Blatantly, openly, cheating. The way HEELS are supposed to. Why they’re considered faces boggles my mind, and I hate it. I hate them both.
Hey, any time I can see Zack Ryder on Raw, I’m happy. Same with David Otunga, and frankly, they’re two talents who could use more time in ring, period. Also, seeing Kane come out, simply to sit down at the announcer’s table, only to stay silent, despite Michael Cole badgering him with questions the entire time. After Zack Ryder lands his finisher, he wins the match. Kane then stands up, immediately goes to attack Ryder, and even clasps his hand around his neck, but relents, and instead chokeslams Otunga. Ryder leaves holding his throat, and Michael Cole starts saying that perhaps this is progress for Kane, since he’d normally attack both of them. I think he’s just trying to get at AJ again, and this is his way of showing commitment? Maybe that makes sense to crazy people. *shudder*
The match between Lawler and Punk is announced as a Steel Cage match, which made me happy, since that’s what I voted for on twitter. Shortly after, AJ comes out to announce that Punk will be defending his title at Night Of Champions against John Cena. Seriously? Goddammit AJ, Y U DO THIS TO ME?
So this whole match was one big exercise in making Jerry Lawler look like he’s still a viable wrestler. From the opening “first shot” that Punk let Lawler have, to Punk getting bloodied by Lawler mid match. After letting us all pretend that Lawler can still wrestle for a few minutes, Punk busts out the Anaconda Vice, and wins. After the match, he grabs a chain from under the ring, and chains himself in the cage with Lawler, puts him in a headlock, and demands he admit that Punk is the best in the world. Lawler refuses, and Punk starts beating on him relentlessly. That being his cue, Cena runs out to save Lawler. He’s unable to open the chained door, and demands they raise the cage. He stands outside, demanding Punk stop, utterly helpless to defend Lawler, all the while Punk batters Lawler with multiple knees to the head, while screaming he is the best wrestler over and over. The cage raises, and Cena jumps in the ring, and runs to Lawler’s aid. Punk walks out, championship belt on his shoulders, triumphant in his victory, while Cena and referee officials stand by Lawler’s side, who is now apparently mortally wounded. Or dead. I hope.
In all, this is a finish to the show that indicates two things. #1, this really IS the final heel turn for Punk, because all the signs are there. Haircut? Check. Constantly shouting he’s the best, regardless of whether he is or not. (Bryan Danielson is, but in WWE, Punk is, so sure.) Check. And of course, attacking a “defenseless” announcer is always a bad thing, unless you’re John Cena and the announcer is Michael Cole. So because of weird double standards, and the general idiocy of the WWE Universe, you’ve got a crowd of people jeering CM Punk for attacking a guy in a match he asked for, for disrespecting him repeatedly, unfairly, and with no provocation. I don’t see how Punk isn’t deserving of respect, or isn’t the WWE Best In The World, because if we’re to presume for a moment, that the WWE Championship is supposed to mean anything, it’s that you’re the BEST WRESTLER in the company. And if WWE is the LEADING Wrestling promotion IN THE WORLD, then logically, this has to mean that you are the BEST IN THE WORLD. You could debate if Punk really is, in shoot terms and ability, but kayfabe, of COURSE he is. He has to be, by definition. John Cena showing up and saying that Punk’s actions are way over the line, are at the best, stupid, and at worst, hypocritical AND stupid.
But, also, this is probably the last time I can realistically, and logically say that Punk is no longer a tweener, when he’s so clearly being portrayed as the villain now. I’m not saying his actions are indefensible, far from it. He’s not on the level of, oh let’s say, Sheamus, because everything Punk does is consistent with what a tweener or heel would do, and that’s fine, because he’s supposed to be. Heel Punk is good Punk. Anything Sheamus is bad Sheamus, same thing with Cena. If there’s one big thing that WWE needs to fix, it’s having their heels and faces act consistently, with what heels and faces are supposed to do, instead of this weird reverse bullshit where faces act like heels and are cheered for it, and heels act realistically and are booed for it forever. It makes me want to rip my eyeballs out and dunk them in sulfuric acid.
Anyhow, hopefully Jerry Lawler is dead, because he’s a bad announcer. I’m sick of his dumb propagandistic mark ass bullshit.