Best: Alberto Del Rio Vs. Cody Rhodes
I’ve got some stuff to complain about AFTER the match, but I’m not gonna complain about ADR and Cody Rhodes going at it for 12 minutes on Raw. See how much better this works? Alberto Del Rio needs to have fun, competitive matches to get him in the right space for WrestleMania. Cody Rhodes is great at wrestling, but he’s not really doing anything besides a backstage romance B-story. He doesn’t have the Intercontinental Championship or the US title, so he doesn’t have to WIN a fun, competitive match. They get in the ring, they put on a good show for a quarter hour, and bam, Del Rio gets a strong win, Cody gets a good, long spot on television, and everyone wins.
And don’t get me wrong, I liked a lot of the post-match stuff, too. Too many WWE feuds are Verbal Confrontations or guys taking turns “distracting” or humiliating each other, so I appreciate Swagger and Del Rio making their beef physical. I like that it wasn’t a one-sided thing, too … it wasn’t a HEINOUS ASSAULT, it was two guys who are on relatively the same level throwing hands at each other, and their seconds/managers/familiars getting involved. Ricardo injected himself into the fight, so he ate it. Things almost got physical with Zeb, but Swagger bailed him out at the last second. Swagger came out on top, injured Del Rio’s best friend, and now we’ve got something to work with deeper than “my Uncle dislikes the Obama administration.”
I really hope it’s not true that WWE is writing off Ricardo Rodriguez with an ankle injury because they don’t think Del Rio needs him. Del Rio ABSOLUTELY needs Ricardo. He’s what makes Del Rio work. If we don’t have the employer/employee friendship thing going, Del Rio’s just a guy who loves America and pumps his fists when he hits moves. You take away his cars, you replace his Mexican pride with US pride, and now you’re gonna write out his Forever Pal? You’re supposed to BUILD guys, WWE, not regress them into FCW characters.
Worst: The Safest Stories
Randy Orton and Sheamus were supposed to team up with Ryback to face The Shield at WrestleMania. The Shield have been unstoppable, attacking ferociously and working together to win the matches they’ve had against teams of seemingly unstoppable WWE do-gooders. Vickie pulled Ryback out of the match with The Shield (which doesn’t make a lot of sense, because she and Brad Maddox had some pretty gigantic issues with Paul Heyman and should want The Shield punished, but … well, whatever), leaving Orton and Sheamus without a third.
So, how do you introduce Big Show as their new third partner, and ratchet up their issues with the hyper-violent, opportunistic Shield? You have Orton and Sheamus beat a team of the easiest-to-beat guys on the roster, have The Shield enter but NOT attack them, then have Big Show’s music play, allowing him to make an extremely slow entrance. This causes the Shield to stand around the ring doing nothing EVEN LONGER before retreating in fear, despite the fact that they’ve beaten up all three of these guys before, and have routinely trounced other teams of three in three-on-three fights. Then, have Big Show point at the WrestleMania sign, which is contractually the only way to participate in a match at WrestleMania.
Yep, that’s got to be the most entertaining way.
Worst: DOLPH ZIGGLER VERSUS KOFI KINGSTON AGAIN, GOD, or
Best: Kofi Kingston’s Streak Of Enjoyable Television Continues
Longtime readers of the Best and Worst of Raw (or readers of any one week between 2009 and now) know that Dolph Ziggler has wrestled Kofi Kingston approximately 600,000,000 times and I am super tired of it. There are few things that make me comatose as fast as this combination, and I once put my television in the toilet instead of watching it. True story.
But yeah, I’ve been warming up to Kofi Kingston lately. Here’s my explanation as to why, from last week’s column:
He had a match with the Big Show that ended in 10 seconds when Show just casually punched him in the face. He followed that up with a match against Damien Sandow where Sandow whomped him so badly R-Truth had to rush out and pretend Sandow had done something illegal. He followed THAT up with a match against Fandango where he stood in the ring for like a minute, didn’t wrestle, then went on Twitter to apologize. And here he is on Raw, jumping jump-first into Mark Henry’s path of destruction and getting HATE THROWN with a World’s Strongest Slam. Seriously, if Kofi’s year continues the way it’s been going so far, I’ll smile and look forward to every appearance he makes.
This week, this happened, and Big E Langston gave exactly zero f**ks:
I love that Big E didn’t even look like he attacked him. He was just walking by, and Kofi tried to jump through him and failed. Big E just kept on walkin’. I love you, Big E Langston. And you’re okay too, Kofi, I guess.
Worst: WWE Is Just Trolling Me Now, Aren’t They
Wade Barrett is the Intercontinental Champion. Because of this, he gets put into a series of non-title matches against guys who are seen as “better” than him — Sheamus, Randy Orton, etc. — and he loses them. Cleanly. Usually in only a few minutes. He has these EVERY WEEK, sometimes three or more times (on television) a week, and when he gets a chance to be a movie, the people who MADE THE MOVIE spend long portions of their show having “better” wrestlers — Sheamus specifically, even though he’s not involved in a feud with Barrett whatsoever — talking about how unimportant Wade is. Still, he retains the Intercontinental Championship, and that tricks you into thinking those losses is what’re devaluing the belt.
But nope! What devalues the belt is that when Wade DOES have to defend it, he KEEPS it. This is the chance where you go “okay, we don’t like Wade Barrett, let’s give the belt to Jericho or The Miz,” have Wade lose his regularly scheduled loss, cut YOUR losses and try something with somebody else. Instead, they put Wade over in the ONE MATCH OUT OF TWENTY with the goddamn belt on the line. The cycle continues, and next week Wade will lose to, I don’t know, Big Show or whoever, and keep his belt.
So … what’s the deal? Why does this happen? Why give him the belt? Why have the belt at all? What does it mean to you? Do you WANT it to mean something? Why are people competing to hold a championship held by a guy who loses 20 times more than them? They haven’t mentioned shit like “increased pay” or “increased visibility” in years. This is the company that puts John Cena matches on after its WWE Championship matches. Why have belts at all? Darren Young could be doing what Wade Barrett’s doing right now and nothing would change. Absolutely nothing. No difference in match quality, ratings, t-shirt sales, nothing. You’re wasting money AND a belt AND television time AND a wrestler’s talent AND the talent of OTHER wrestlers who could hypothetically do something interesting or compelling or important with your secondary championships with no positive results. What is wrong with you. Stop it.