Worst: Just Start The Shows With Tag Team Main Event Graphics And Save Us 20 Minutes
I could attribute the fact that the opening 20 minutes of Raw sounded like a filibuster from Charlie Brown’s teacher to any number of things, including:
1. A magical weekend at Chikara pro wrestling’s King Of Trios tournament in Easton, PA, with a solid dozen old and new friends from the With Leather wrestling community. Night 3 of the event was legitimately one of the best wrestling shows I’ve ever seen, live or not, and coming back to Raw with the kind of enthusiasm you need to write six pages of Bests after tearing up twice (twice!) at an emotional, visceral live event is hard. Also, Raw will not end with me posing for a picture with a Japanese Colonel Sanders-themed wrestler. (Note: I’m writing a Best And Worst Of King Of Trios column for later in the week, so look out for that.)
2. Jet/travel lag. I flew into Philadelphia from Austin, Texas, then slept for like 40 minutes before driving two hours west-ish to Easton. The most substantial thing I had to eat between Thursday and Monday afternoon was a Ruby Tuesday salad bar.
3. Raw’s had a terrible tendency to go trough the motions on certain things, but taking way, way too long to go through them.
Number three is the big one, because “wrestling can be happy elsewhere” and “I got to go to wrestling shows” are terrible excuses. I don’t necessarily mind Paul Heyman wandering out to compliment a referee on his decision-making skills (I don’t mind Paul Heyman doing or saying anything) or the pay-per-view “controversy” recap and eventual “Teddy Long Operating AJ Like A Puppet” tag-teamery. I just hate that they have to take so freaking long to do it. Would any wrestling fan in the world have felt less satisfied if they’d just had Michael Cole go BREAKING NEWS ON A BLOCKBUSTER TAG TEAM MATCH ALBERTO DEL RIO TEAMS WITH CM PUNK TO FACE JOHN CENA AND SHEAMUS, IT’S LIKE THE PAY-PER-VIEW MATCHES BUT BOTH OF THEM?
You aren’t even robbed of “seeing” anybody. Everybody involved in this segment was involved elsewhere. It might’ve even made things better, if the folks who came to see Sheamus hadn’t seen Sheamus until LOBSTER HEAD kicked in for the main-event. You can sorta give us the benefit of the doubt on these things, WWE … if you have a one-segment match build and it ain’t that great (i.e. “it’s like the pay-per-view matches but both of them”), just have the match and let us figure it out.
If there was a single trope I could remove from pro wrestling forever, it would be “we have something scheduled for later or somewhere else, but let’s do it RIGHT HERE TONIGHT”.
Best: The Tag Team Division Might Actually Be Happening
I think most of us had probably written off “they’re rebuilding the tag division” as one of those “Ultimate Warrior died and was replaced” situations where it keeps getting reported as facts that only stupid people believe. But here we are with Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara going up against Epico and Primo to open the show, Titus O’Neil and Darren Young getting involved after the bell AND a tag title run featuring two persons of legitimate import in a story (good or bad). And they’re defending against the former champions, who didn’t just start hitting each other when they lost the belts. Teams are forming and staying together, and matches are happening. More importantly, they’re SAYING the tag team division is getting its shit together, which in WWE terms in a thousand times more important than wrestling or wrestlers.
And yeah, maybe this is all just a smokescreen to get Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio involved with each other enough to split them apart and run them at WrestleMania for a dumb “most masks” World Record or whatever, but it’s something, and it’s substantial. Sin Cara gets to look great every week, allowing tag matches to hide his WWE weaknesses and looking like the most fit and athletic dude ever next to Viscera-pants Rey Mysterio in his mysterious, sleeveless Spanx.
Best: The Prime Time Players Are Srs Bznss
Hey Darren … “nobody gonna take any wang from us”? You mean like KOBE BRYAN IN A COLORADO HOTEL ROOM?
If you haven’t been enjoying the Prime Time Players as dancing football enthusiasts, perhaps you’ll enjoy them as HYPER-VIOLENT TERRY CREWS and his weird friend Darren. I don’t love the change in attitude, mostly because the announcers going THIS IS A CHANGE IN ATTITUDE makes me think we’ll never see Titus calling personal fouls again, but I like to see them sticking around and being a thing. Pretty hilarious that the worst guy from NXT season 1 and the worst guy from NXT season 2 teamed up and made something out of themselves. Hey, Kaval and Johnny Curtis aren’t on TV anymore, and Kaitlyn was only around on Raw as an accident. All they’ve got to do is take out Wade Barrett and they’re better than every winner.
Best: JBL Is The F**king Best
Jerry Lawler’s heart attack gave us two really great things: a new era of announce teams where they all get along and want the best for each other instead of challenging one another to barbecue foot eating matches or whatever, and JBL returning to “keep the seat warm”. I hope he keeps the seat warm forever, because f**k Jerry Lawler, Bradshaw is the shit.
Last night’s commentary team (when they weren’t briefly arguing about Twitter) was focused on talking about the matches, making the competitors seem important, getting over storylines and, most importantly, not saying CHIMMINNYCHONGA at the Mexican wrestlers until I had to change the channel. At one point during the Ziggler/Santino match I realized JBL had gotten over both wrestlers as legitimate athletes in like 30 seconds. Have they ever put as much emphasis on the “Santino is a goof, but he’s a shoot judo champion” thing before? It was great.
Stay forever, JBL, and keep Jim Ross with you. Only Southern people should be allowed to speak into a microphone during wrestling matches.
Worst: Good Luck On Mars, Beth Phoenix
I’m giving the match a Worst because it was two minutes of awful wrestling. There are, however, a couple of Bests.
- Eve remembering the last however many years of watching Beth Phoenix wrestle and utilizing a roll-up as soon as possible for an easy victory. Beth Phoenix is for real a turtle and cannot move if she’s slowly rolled backwards onto her back. Watch when she loses, she doesn’t even kick out all angry after three and jump to her feet, she just languishes there on the mat. SOMEBODY GO ROLL HER BACK OVER.
- Layla + real people clothes = Jesus
I also liked that WWE is so ashamed of Kaitlyn “accidentally” winning a Divas #1 Contenders Battle Royal that they not only had her get Tonya’d Harding at the pay-per-view, they had the announcers on Raw spend the entire Divas match explaining how nothing shady happened, and Kaitlyn just got injured by a masked person backstage because it’s wrestling and that shit just happens.