Best: Part Of Me Really Enjoys Pun/Big Show Matches
Three important truths about this match:
1. CM Punk matches are always best when he’s fighting back, and not when he’s allowed to control the action. This is why his matches with John Cena were so good (because Cena is an unstoppable juggernaut, and Punk is just trying to do his best). Ditto with Samoa Joe (because pre-Crisis Samoa Joe was an unstoppable juggernaut, and Punk as just trying to do his best. Also, top rope pedigrees).
2. Big Show matches are best when he’s allowed to be dominant, but not SO dominant that he spends 80% of the match standing around spittling at the crowd about how he’s dominant. Show should be in control, but always trying to do the next best thing to put his opponent away. That way they’re asked to avoid his death moves (with a 500 pound guy, anything can be a death move) and you can go really anywhere with it. If you don’t, it’s that boring Kofi Kingston cage match where he just pumped his fist and yelled ARGH I’M NOT NICE for 15 minutes.
3. WWE matches between established guys who’ve fought each other a thousand times are usually better in your brain if you can remember the great stuff they’ve done together before. Punk and Show had that great Straight Edge Society feud with masked Punk, so when they’re in the ring together my brain releases the chemicals that go along with that I watch with a smile on my face.
So I find myself enjoying these two in the ring, sometimes against my will. Punk’s big swingy offense looks a dozen times better on a guy this size than it does against a guy like Daniel Bryan, partially because of Show’s big, swingy selling but mostly because when Punk lazy-kicks Bryan in the head you just want Dragon to snap and beat the f**k out of him because science.
Worst: AJ Is Really Shaking Things Up By Doing Exactly What Every Other GM Would Do
I think we all knew this was coming.
Vince, in all his nWo swivel chair glory, made CRAZY CHIX AJ the general manager of Raw because it’s TIME TO SHHHHAKE IT UP DAMMIT, assuming I guess that she’d schedule bra-and-pantie inferno matches or put Justin Roberts in a Punjabi Prison match against 15 live chickens because she’s unstable. Why Vince would want that for his Raw instead of someone who understood the conventions of wrestling and could work within them to create compelling, unique television is a good question, but “why does this guy run a business where he hit his daughter with a pipe and had his son’s face shoved up his ass” is also a good one and should be answered first.
Anyway, AJ has responded to her general, managerial position with two important choices: wearing pantsuits and always doing the most obvious thing in the world. It’s disappointing. When a CM Punk/Big Show match gets interrupted by Daniel Bryan and John Cena runs out to make the save, the first thing a progressive GM should do is NOT MAKE A TAG TEAM MATCH WITH THOSE FOUR GUYS. This is what Teddy Long would do. There’s an entire generation of wrestlers who grew up watching Teddy Long (and Paul Heyman, let’s be straight) make impromptu tag matches, so now THEY’VE got to do it, because that’s their only interpretation of the job AND it’s the ironic thing to do, so it’s lose-lose.
Also, AJ really needs to stop putting her fingers in her mouth and skipping in the pantsuit. The only gesture you can do in a WWE pantsuit is holding the microphone in your hand about shoulder high and putting your other hand on your hip. This is in the f**king handbook.
Best: Kaitlyn, Regular WWE Television Character
On the plus side, AJ’s rise to prominence, for better or worse, has kinda-sorta-maybe ensured that Kaitlyn gets to be a TV character going forward. She’s not saddled with the poor Maxine “standing in the background of bikini contests and scowl because you’re the pretty one nobody’s ever heard of” thing anymore … hell, during her tag match on Raw Michael Cole abandoned his old NXT talking point of “Kaitlyn is horrible and everything these women are doing is horrible” in favor of “some say Kaitlyn is a future Divas Champion!” And while those statements are interchangeable to most people, one sounds a hell of a lot better than the other.
Here are the two things I love most about Kaitlyn, assuming “lady muscle body” and “Brandon is occasionally a pervert” aren’t applicable:
1. She has a personality. I’m talking an actual personality, one that comes through when she’s speaking in front of a camera. I’m sure Beth Phoenix is an engaging, personable woman in real life, but when she’s on TV her only personality is I AM A WRESTLING LADY!!! Kaitlyn seems like an actual person, albeit one with abs that could pave a sidewalk, and I think that’s kept her moving forward since she showed up on NXT as a giantess’ replacement with about 45 seconds of wrestling experience.
2. She’s the Ricky Steamboat of our generation. No, not like that. One of Ricky Steamboat’s secondary accomplishments was being a wrestler with a wrestling name whose real name was WAY WAY more of a wrestling name. “Ricky Steamboat” was actually RICHARD BLOOD. How awesome is that? “Kaitlyn” is one of those disposable FCW names they should’ve gotten her out of years ago, but her real name is (seriously) CELESTE BONIN. Her wrestling name sounds like a teen girl you’d get a shit-eye from at the mall. Her real name sounds like a Final Fantasy: The XXX Parody character.
Worst: Contract Signings
I was worried that recapping 3-hour Raws would make my hands fall off, but I guess I underestimated WWE’s ability to shoehorn like an hour and seventy minutes of hype packages and recap videos and MOMENTS AGOES and Slams Of The Night. Seriously, this show was shoot 40% recap. I can only type “Nitro isn’t around anymore, those Moments Ago videos aren’t helping anyone, if we like CM Punk we’ll remember what happened to CM Punk, Jesus” so many times.
Contract signings are one of the worst things you can do on a wrestling show, on the list somewhere between birthday parties and in-ring weddings, and part of what makes them so bad is Raw assuming you want to see them REALLY BADLY and will pop for every mention of them until they happen. I think we were reminded five or six times to stay tuned for the contract signing, as if we were gonna suddenly forget wrestling was on and miss the last 45 minutes of a show we’ve already chosen to watch.