Best: Naomi Wins The Naughty Santa Christmas Panty Whatever
I feel like these YouTube pay-per-view pre-shows should be hard sell advertisements for the pay-per-view … like, they should put a really good match or important storyline development on YouTube for free to try and convince people that 50 bucks is worth dropping on the show proper. I think the only time they tried that was at SummerSlam when they gave Antonio Cesaro the United States Championship. As far as I can tell, WWE’s creative goal is less “succeed at wrestling” and more “have a lot of wrestling and hope you’ll watch,” so here’s a thing you’d see on Raw, except with elf hats.
I loved two important things about the match, though:
1. Eve Torres sauntering up and pimp slapping the shit out of Kaitlyn for no reason, because Eve is suddenly one of the best parts of the show, and
2. Naomi getting the win.
Naomi could be a thing, if WWE likes her long enough. She’s got a lot of natural talent, she seems enthusiastic about being a part of the show, and truly hers is a butt that won’t quit. She’s also stuck in the wheel of the f**king abandoned riverboat that is the Funkasaurus gimmick, so if he can just ease her into non-Funkadactylic clothing and situations (and maybe give her a last name?) we’ll be a lot better off. Plus, hey, it’s a break from the Eve/Layla/Kaitlyn circle jerk that has consumed 2012.
Best: Rhodes Scholar Putting Brooklyn Hipsters On Blast
Jerry Lawler tried his hardest to screw this up by over-explaining it later, but the two most sincerely “hipster” guys in WWE calling out Brooklyn-area hipsters for thinking they’re cooler than they are AND for growing ridiculous facial hair was amazing.
I feel like Rhodes and Sandow are being undermined at every turn by people who can’t follow their lead — Miz ignoring Sandow’s funny improv to make gay jokes, Lawler explaining everything in case we cannot follow super obvious cues — but are succeeding anyway, because they are so completely their characters. Rhodes was born to do things to ruin his good looks for heat, and Sandow is the new version of Ninotchka from G.L.O.W. … a guy who is nothing like his character, but stuck acting and speaking that way forever because it works.
Sandow isn’t as good in the ring as Antonio Cesaro (because who is?), but he remains one of the best reasons to watch WWE programming, because it’s been years since we had a guy who was as legitimately entertaining every time he opens his mouth. He’s never let me down. In five years when he’s a babyface, wearing “I GOT FIVE WORDS FOR YA – CUPIO TE MEAM MENTULAM SUGARE” shirts and calling out heels for being different maybe I’ll change my mind, but let’s hope it never gets to that.
Best: Tables Matches Are A Great Way To Start A Pay-Per-View
I wrote about this a bit in the Best And Worst Of Royal Rumble 2000, but tag team table matches can be the very best of gimmick matches … they provide a context for illogical construction time not afforded to TLC or falls count anywhere matches (because the objective is to do the dumb thing that takes forever to set up), and the inclusion of four guys instead of two (or more) allows for action in one place and construction of plunder in another without everything getting boring or jumbled. Plus, guys falling through tables.
I mean, I didn’t think Rhodes Scholar and Car Stereo was as good as the Dudleys and the Hardys, but it was a hell of a lot of fun, and any sadness I felt watching Mysterio move like a turtle while the announcers bragged about his quickness was lessened by this:
Best: Sin Cara Dies
If I’m Sin Cara, I’m going to learn to stay out of matches involving objects through which I may be thrown. First Sheamus powerbombs him into wellness oblivion through a wooden ladder, and now this. Maybe Sin Cara’s allergic to wood? Or maybe his body is magnetized by it. That’s why he could never stick his trampoline entrance, the planks under the ring apron kept weighing him down.
I know it sounds stupid when I type it, but wrestling would really benefit from somebody putting together a powerpoint or whatever of puroresu and lucha libre, to explain how each style of wrestling could benefit Vince McMahon and his sports entertainment jazz within its own style. For example, a puro guy might not mind being kicked in the face as hard as possible. So why not put him in the ring with Sheamus, let him unload a Brogue Kick that we’d never forget and make him look like the most brutal guy ever? A luchador like Sin Cara might be able to springboard to the top rope and get shoved 15 feet down into a table without hurting himself but break his leg trying to do one of your dumb “everybody jumps” spots. So why not let him do the spectacular thing? I know you don’t want to hear it from a nerd like me, but puro and lucha have a lot more to offer WWE-style wrestling than “Japanese and Mexican people are also here.”
Worst: The Shield 2, Book Of Shadows
The Shield are cornball brothers.
They’re great, don’t get me wrong. I’m going to paragraphically fellate them a little later on, but like I said in last week’s Raw report, these backstage things where they find a video camera and tape over their old promos with a new one (all the while standing super close to each other and pointing the camera around so they can finish each others’ sentences) are just terrible. It’s like Cloverfield without the monster. I keep wanting to still-frame it so I can see if a satellite drops into the ocean behind them.
I honestly think I’d like them more if Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns stopped talking. Ambrose is clearly the best talker in the group, and when you’ve got a guy on the team that good at one thing, you should let him (and I apologize in advance for this pun) take the reigns. Dean’s job is to run his hands through his hair and talk about injustices. Roman’s job should be to look threatening and muscle people around. Seth’s job should be to jump off shit and leap really high to stomp peoples’ faces into chairs. It’s a dynamic that works, but so far the dynamic has been “we’re all the same guy, but there are three of us.”
Also, for f**k’s sake, take the Blue Steel clip out of the videos.