Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is giving it a good go at drumming up a bit of interest in his latest movie, Hercules: The Thracian Wars, by teasing set pictures and sneak peeks at his costume for his titular role as Hercules in Brett Ratner’s upcoming comic adaptation. His latest attempt comes courtesy of his Instagram feed and is a brief video giving as partial glimpse at his costume.
Much like his Fast and Furious 6 co-star Vin Diesel has done with the upcoming Pitch Black sequel, Johnson is using social media to drive interest and create a bit of viral marketing for the movie, which seems to have relatively slipped under the radar. Johnson has posted several pictures from the set of him in various stages of make up and showing off scars and set pieces. Notably, Johnson has not revealed his face in any of these pictures. It would be interesting to see if this is due to Johnson sporting prosthesis of some kind. Or just a big bushy beard.
Hercules: The Thracian Wars is an adaptation of Radical Comics limited series of the same name, written by Steve Moore and art by Cris Bolsin. Hercules: The Thratian Wars take place after all the legendary stories, including the 12 labors, and see’s the demi-god in the company of five trusted warriors and has been described “a revisionist take on the classic myth set in a grounded world where the supernatural does not exist.” Apart from Hercules himself being the son of the God Zeus, of course.
[quote]Haunted by a sin from his past, Hercules has become a mercenary. Along with five faithful companions, he travels ancient Greece selling his services for gold and using his legendary reputation to intimidate enemies. But when the benevolent ruler of Thrace and his daughter seek Hercules’ help to defeat a savage and terrifying warlord, Hercules finds that in order for good to triumph and justice to prevail… he must again become the hero he once was… he must embrace his own myth… he must be Hercules.[/quote]
The film is being produced by Paramount and MGM who will be hoping that their movie will do better than 2011’s Conan The Barbarian, another former Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle, that was a complete box office and critical failure. Paramount and MGM have placed the project in the hands of reliab[ly mediocre], if not groundbreaking, director Brett Ratner and scripted by Ryan Condal and Evan Spiliotopoulos.
As well as Dwayne Johnson as Hercules, the film also stars Ian McShane (Deadwood) as Hercules’ counselor and former warrior, Amphiarus, Aksel Hennie as Tydeus, Rufus Sewell (Dark City) as Autolycus, and Reece Ritchie as Iolaus. The villains of the piece will be Tobias Santelmann as the evil Rhesus along with John Hurt (Alien) as the King of Thrace. Ingrid Bolsø Berdal and Joseph Fiennes also join the cast.
To keep up to date with information and teases of Hercules: The Thratian Wars, as well as some pretty impressive pictures of muscles and tweets about weight training, follow The Rock. Hercules: The Thratian Wars will be released theatrically July 25 2014.
Remember when Grizzly Bomb recently covered an interesting piece of news about how Arnie maybe being the lead role in the new Terminator 5 movie? If you will recal,l I thought that they had tried pretty much everything they could to revamp this franchise and it may be a struggle to give us something new and fresh even after Salvation did not do so well at the box office. Well Bleeding Cool just posted up some news which certainly took this reviewer by surprise. Here is a quote from the Bleeding Cool article originally published on WWE Examiner website.
[quote] “We’re told the script is now being developed and with one fellow action movie star in mind for the role of T5′s most sinister machine. A source close to Annapurna Films exclusively tells WWE Examiner Friday morning that one version of the script is being produced specifically for The Rock himself”[/quote]
Okay I am a sucker for action movies and no matter what you say about Dwayne Johnson he knows his stuff in this particular style of film. The mention of “sinister machine” can really only mean one thing. The Rock is going to play the iconic tin man, The Terminator. To say this is a good idea would be an understatement as he would make a great killing machine. The intensity is practically stamped on his face in every movie he is in……….okay, maybe not The Tooth Fairy but you get the idea. So if Arnie is not in the Skynet driving seat then who is? Well Bleeding Cool has some news on that to.
“T5 may be a prequel set in the days of Sarah Connor’s parents, marking the first time terminators have been sent back in time to kill a character that existed before both John and Sarah Connor.
Incredibly, Schwarzenegger may not play the role of a machine in the next film, but a potentially heroic human figure in or close to the Connor family. One theory is that Schwarzenegger’s remarkable ability to protect the Connor family in the 1940s or 1950s with antiquated weaponry by today’s standards ultimately inspired the machines to develop a terminator in his likeness that was eventually sent to 1984 when Sarah Connor was first targeted for termination.”
What do you do with a franchise when you have gone as far back with it as you can? Well, you go further back! This actually seems like a cool idea. We would get a new set of characters to follow who are still linked with the original movies (so not changing continuity) and it would get some much-needed new blood in the franchise and hopefully, the cinema seats. Even if Arnie is not as hot as he once was, seeing him in a different role from the Terminator will certainly be enough to pique a lot of people’s interest. The 40s and 50s setting adds a new element to with maybe Arnie as the Connor family protector role using a Tommy gun on Terminator Dwayne is something I would pay money to see. It also gets around the awkwardness of Arnie some how being de-aged to play The Terminator. Though I have to say the notion of using Arnie as a template for The Terminators because he is such an ass kicker seems a tad strange. Maybe it’s The Terminators way of showing respect, similar to when a Predator rips out your spine for his wall collection because you were a brave warrior.
This is only a slight wrinkle and this recent news makes this reviewer a heck of a lot more excited than they were a few weeks back when the concept of Terminator5 was announced. Still in its early days, but the more I learn about this concept the more I like it. Maybe taking an Untouchables and Lawless approach to the Terminator franchise could work, maybe they could even inject a bit of humor (that worked so well in Terminator 2) that could come back into play after the depressing and full on feel of Salvation. I am taking a guess right now that Arnie dies a tragic death and if he does you heard it here first at Grizzly Bomb.
Keep checking with us for more details as this develops.
Tonight’s Raw follows Wrestlemania 29, the veritable Super Bowl of wrestling, so to speak. The thing about the WWE is that the Raw’s after WM are always more interesting because of their very nature of being directly after WM. It’s the “season premiere” in a way, and like any other serialized show, is generally when they introduce new story lines, characters, or themes to the show. It wasn’t surprising to me at all then that this Raw was one of the best ones in a very long time, partly due to the fact that it was booked really well, everyone was on their A-Game, and the crowd was hotter than hell. A lot of folks online were complaining about the quality of WM 29, and while I can see where they’re coming from I still enjoyed it immensely. Sometimes I wonder if Wrestlemania no longer holding the same “prestige” it once did for me is because I’m just older, or if it is directly because their product isn’t as good any more. It’s hard for me to objectively gauge, but I do know I can still enjoy sitting in a room of wrestling fans, cheering when the guys I want to win, win, and being shocked together by the surprises that came.
Some wanted Wrestlemania to be a heel turn-fest, and provide shocks and twists abound, along with whatever other incredibly specific thing they each wanted. What we got instead were a bunch of great stories told inside the ring, with a specific set of characters telling them well. So Cena didn’t turn heel, so what? His match with The Rock was still exciting, and even though I knew he was going to win it was still fun to watch. I know I’m a total smark and talk all the time about how certain payoffs should or shouldn’t happen, but that’s only when what’s being given is lackluster, or comes at the sacrifice of good wrestling. Last night at Wrestlemania, neither of those things were sacrificed. If you watched that whole 4 hour show and didn’t find yourself standing on your feet at least once, you’re just dead inside. That all being said, Raw tonight was damned amazing.
Raw opening with Cena was inevitable, and what I’m about to say may shock and worry you but rest assured it couldn’t any more than it did me. Frankly, I was glad to see it open with Cena. I KNOW I KNOW, IT’S NOT BIZARRO WORLD BUT HEAR ME OUT! Firstly, his character in the last 2 weeks has received a considerable and noteworthy change. That main change is the earnestness of his character. He’s confident now in a way that isn’t unearned, or at the very least, isn’t grating. He’s able to communicate that his weakness is his UNRELENTING URGE TO ALWAYS WIN FOREVER AT EVERYTHING. Unstoppable Terminator Death Machine Cena is a much more interesting character than Fake Underdog Cena. He doesn’t have to sell us any line of BS about overcoming the odds or any of that crap, he’s goddamned JOHN CENA and everyone knows he’s nigh impossible to beat. A guy who comes out and says “HEY I’M THE BEST, BECAUSE I AM” is someone who I can respect more than a guy who comes out and says “HEY AREN’T I GREAT, HERE I’LL SHOW YOU OVER AND OVER, TELL ME HOW GREAT I AM!” Him coming out tonight in the ugliest shirt possible, standing there amongst the very loud, very obvious boos (that Cole and Lawler were trying so desperately to pass off as a “mixed” reaction) was something to behold. Fittingly it’s not a heel turn for him, because he’s not really done anything bad, but it’s a spark of a new direction for his character to take, and that alone is a breath of fresh air for Cena. It looks like he’s slowly going in the direction towards being a heel, but I’d put money on him never actually turning. It doesn’t matter though at this point, because I’d still rather have Cena be the champion. Why? Because one is an annoying, arrogant, sexist, baby talking self-centered douche bag, and the other is an annoying, invincible, up until now mostly bland and boring self-centered douche bag. If I have to pick between douche bags, I’m gonna pick the one that doesn’t hate women. Period.
Firstly, HOLY CRAP BIG E LANGSTON IS FINALLY DOING SINGLES MATCHES ON RAW YAAAAYYY! Secondly, he’s not getting to use his own totally awesome music from NXT. BOOOOO!!!!! But it’s okay, because hopefully this means he’ll turn face and we’ll get to bring the maniac murdering machine who’s obsessed with the number 5 to Raw now! Lastly, he got to wrestle against Daniel Bryan! And they both looked great the whole time! I’m used to Raw opening with a lengthy promo, but when the promo is interesting and captivating, and is then followed up by great wrestling, well I’ll be darned, YOU JUST GONE DUN MADE YOU THERE A GOOD RASSLIN’ SHOW! Which is funny because all of the dirt sheet info is saying that The Rock was supposed to show up tonight, and start a feud with Brock Lesnar for reasons. Then he decided to just head home and all of it was scrapped at the last minute. If you ask me it sounds legit because the whole excuse for Rock not being there due to “injury” just smelled something rotten. Regardless of the reason, this Raw is the result of The Rock not showing up and everyone scrambling to tell a new story? Well done. Do this every week please?
If you’re one of the millions of people who ordered Wrestlemania yesterday you’re no doubt confused like me as to why you didn’t see the Intercontinental Championship defended. The reason was because it was, but it was on the Pre-show that they stream on YouTube online. I don’t know about you, but if you’re over at a friend’s house waiting for a 4 hours wrestling show to come on, drinking beers and grilling hotdogs, you’re not gonna bust out a laptop and have everyone huddle around for one pre-show match. I understand it’s purpose is to get people who were otherwise unconvinced to watch it on YouTube for free a bit, then decide to watch the rest on PPV. But if you’ve already ordered the PPV, why the hell can’t we watch it in HD on our tv’s, before the actual PPV starts? Why not just include it? I’ll never understand why it’s not included, but it isn’t, so that’s that.
All that being said however, I’m glad they repeated it tonight on Raw because Wade Barrett and The Miz have found their perfect complements to each other’s skill sets. The two of them know how to build up a great match and keep everyone guessing. I full expected The Miz to win this match and keep another long IC title reign, and when Barrett finally smashed Miz’s face in with his Bullhammer finisher (that he finally got to look amazing instead of utter s**t!), I was sold on tonight being a great Raw. I’m only going to say that about 3 or 4 more times in this review, but believe me each time when I say it was great.
This was a match that had me on my toes for 2 reasons. The first was I love seeing Alberto Del Rio demolish either Swagger or Zeb Colter, because it’s just great. Zeb Colter using the rampant jingoism in every wrestling fan against them, to get them to inadvertently cheer for him was a brilliant heel move. This feud is one I could see going on for a while, and escalating into something great, or, I could see it ending quickly in the limelight of what happened after the match ended. Which leads me to my second reason:
DOLPH ZIGGLER CASHING IN THAT MONEY IN THE BANK AND THE WHOLE DAMN CROWD MARKING OUT FOR IT LIKE IT WAS BIGGER THAN JESUS’ SECOND COMING HOLY F***!!!
I cannot stress enough just how awesome this crowd was at tonight’s Raw, and how special they made it by just being so into it that by proxy it made you even more into it. I can only imagine how magical it must have felt to have been there. Jerry Lawler “mishearing” the audience as saying “We want Colter” was particularly stupid though. Everybody friggin’ loves Dolph Ziggler already. He’s the top of the talent you’ve got and the future of the biz. Let him be loved by the people. It’s amazing. These matches were amazing. This whole night was amazing so far. You can tell when Raw is good because I don’t have much to say other than really liking it. It’s when it’s bad that all of a sudden I can’t shut up.
And then somehow, impossibly, as if things couldn’t get even MORE exciting, The Undertaker comes out! Just the presence of Undertaker is enough to get one excited, but after his top-notch match against CM Punk last night, it was more than enough to get me going. He looked so good that it convinced me he could easily go another 4 years and make the streak go all the way to 25 at the very least, if not 30. At this point I really don’t see anyone being able to ever beat him, and that’s a good thing. HIs streak means a lot to the WWE, and whoever comes to finish it off better bring a hell of a lot of gravitas and meaning to it. Whether next year it’s going to be Punk again, or Kane or Cena or whoever, it’s something I’m looking forward to. There’s only two people I can see being the ones to end The Streak, and the most obvious is Cena. He’s the Unstoppable Force to Taker’s Immovable Object. But concerning story and character arcs, it has to be Kane. He’s the only one who should end it, and the day they announce him has the one to go against Undertaker is the one day I actually put money against Undertaker at Wrestlemania. From now on, it’s clear sailing on Taker from here until then.
But that’s not it, we’ve now got The Shield showing up, challenging Undertaker, and my heart nearly skipped a beat! What are these guy’s agenda? Why Undertaker? Furthermore, if Kane and Daniel Bryan didn’t show up to back Taker up, would they have been able to do their triple power bomb of destruction on him? With the way The Shield have been going so far, it almost wouldn’t surprise me. Seeing Kane and Daniel Bryan come out was so great too. Any time characters support each other mutually for reasons that make sense, especially emotional ones like the support over the loss of a loved one, gets to me. Kane is THERE for Undertaker, and Daniel Bryan is THERE for Kane! Amazing!
Of course though, it couldn’t all be perfect. There had to be at least once match that slowed everything down so we could all catch our breath. As much as I love 3MB any and all of their coolness was utterly negated by the inherent lameness of Zack Ryder, Santino and R-Truth. Which is a shame because with the exception of Santino those guys used to be really funny and interesting. Then they just got lamer, and lamer until you didn’t care about them anymore. Then they both just became annoying and made you wonder why you ever even cared about them to begin with. Santino is the worst, so I can’t really hate on him too much because that’d be like kicking a deaf, dumb, blind weasel in the throat that was wearing a green sock on its paws and pretending to be threatening. The dude is such a non-wrestler that I could not see him for months and not even think a single thing about him, or even notice his absence. Oh wait, that happened. It just did. This is the first time I’ve seen Santino in months. And he won using his stupid Cobra finisher that obviously does nothing. There goes my theory about 3MB slowly amassing strength from all their combined defeats. If Heath Slater can’t kick out of a finger poke, he can’t kick out of goddamned anything.
This match is a great example of a perfectly serviceable match between Sheamus and Orton, with Sheamus Sheamusing around and Orton Ortoning right back. The both of them doing their boring invincible white guy thing back and forth. It’s also a great example of this crowd turning a relatively boring match into an exciting one, as they brought it to life with different chants and reactions that made Sheamus and Orton actually put some effort into their stuff, rather than just going through the repeated old motions that they’re used to. By the time Big Show stormed out and demolished them both I found myself surprised rather than cynical, simply because the crowd got me into it. Guys, the crowd got me into a Sheamus and Randy Orton match. That’s. In. Credible.
It was a really good Raw. I’m telling you.
God I love Fandango. The guy actually can totally wrestle, so everybody who chants that he can’t can just shut it. Plus watching him beat down Kofi Kingston using the ART OF DANCE, AND WRESTLING was goddamned amazing. Sure Jericho had to come and ruin it all because he’s upset that Fandango beat him last night at WM. Listen Jericho, Fandango beat you fair and square. A roll up pin is still a pin, and just means you fell for the most obvious and old hat trick in the book. You have nobody to blame but yourself for losing, so why are you acting like something was stolen from you? I like Jericho but he’s not above me calling him out when he starts acting like every other hypocritical jerk that’s supposed to be a face wrestler in the WWE. If you don’t like Fandango, why not try besting him in a dancing competition, or just prove to him you’re the better wrestler by issuing a rematch? Running out and interrupting his beat down of Kofi Kingston is not the way to my heart Jericho. IT IS NOT.
This was a match that got bumped from the Wrestlemania card on Sunday, and it’s a shame. My lecherous cousins, friends and I all were looking forward to seeing the return of the Bella twins to the WWE in a wrestling capacity, if only for their looks. Like I said, we’re not the greatest, most classy bunch of men. Anyhow, it’s a shame because I’m sure the match would have been better then than it was tonight. It was by no means bad, but I’m so not into “Tons Of Funk” as Tensai and Funkasaurus have been rebranded, that it really makes me sick. Like I said before, there’s really no logical reason at all to dislike Team Rhodes Scholars, and if you do there’s something wrong with you. But it was really nice to see Naomi and Cameron actually get to wrestle for a few moments. Made me remember when the WWE had an actual women’s divisio… A woman’s do-what? A what’s division? What was I saying? I can’t remember anymore, because the WWE CLEARLY DOESN’T WANT ME TO.
Mark Hentry vs Cena means of course I’d like to see Mark Henry win, but I know I won’t. It’s Cena. He’s in this new attitude where he’ll still let you take that same challenge against him, but now he’s so confident he’ll win that actually fulfill his duty to enact that challenge and actually have it happen that night. The best thing about it was the fake out they’re trying to do, by having Cena win in the “cowardly” way by count out. It would seem they’re trying very hard to create some traction with his character and give some new life to him, and having him win in this “gray” way, (for Cena at least) is a surefire step up from Mr. Five Moves Of Doom. Seeing Mark Henry angrily World’s Strongestly Slam him into the ground and hold up the belt triumphantly was great as well. What was greater was how into it the crowd was! They wanted Cena’s BLOOD! When The Ryback finally showed up and took out Henry, everyone was going insane and it made it all that much better.
Then the predictable thing happened, where The Ryback went to offer a hand to help Cena up. A wrestler acting honorably is something you don’t often get seen raucously booed into oblivion, but the people at the show there tonight hated Cena and wanted to see him suffer. So it was pretty jarring to see what I’m guessing is ostensibly a heel turn, with The Ryback viciously attacking Cena, be cheered as if it was some glorious, honorable display! I’ve never seen a potential heel turn so widely and resoundingly cheered, that it might have totally ruined his heel turn! If they want The Ryback to be hated or booed, they’re gonna have to try again, because tonight at least, the people certainly didn’t hate him for taking on Cena. It was amazing you guys.
Tonight’s Raw opens up with CM Punk making his way out to the ring.
Punk’s now fully in his ultimate-disrespectful-douchebag mode, and it’s something I just love to death. Granted he doesn’t sound as believable as he did when he was feuding with The Rock a few months ago. That’s really my only problem is that when Punk was making promos against Rock, it was for an ideology. He was saying what he believed because he believed it, and it echoed throughout his promos and made them mean more on every level. While I prefer earnest-I-Mean-Everything-I-Say CM Punk to Ultimate-Disrespectful-Douchebag CM Punk, they’re both fascinating, interesting, amazing characters. I like how he’s gained his confidence back, because him being cowardly and afraid of The Ryback rang so false it made my ears bleed. I like that he’s not afraid of The Undertaker and sees him as just yet another challenge to take on forcefully to cement himself as The Best In The World. In my heart of hearts I want Punk to win, because 20-1 is a good number, and as much as I love Undertaker all things have to come to an end eventually. When push comes to shove though, I’ll be putting money on ‘Taker though, because I’m a smart better, not a hopeful one.
OH MY F***ING GOD I LOVE FANDANGO. HOLY CRAP! THAT ENTRANCE! MAN THAT’S AN ENTRANCE! I KNOW HE DID IT LAST WEEK BUT I WASN’T ABLE TO WRITE ABOUT IT LAST WEEK BECAUSE OF TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES, SO I’LL PRETEND LIKE IT’S NEW THIS WEEK AND OH MY F***ING GOD!!!
I’m a sucker for a good gimmick. I was at a wrestling show this last weekend and there was a guy there who was clearly green, but had a bunch of galaxies and wizard art airbrushed onto his singlet, and I cheered him on obnoxiously loudly because why wouldn’t you? That’s who Fandango is to me right now. He’s that guy who’s unafraid to commit to being really super ostentatious and annoying, solely to get heat. The fact that he’s getting “YOU CAN’T WRESTLE!” chants only confirms this to me, because if any of you saw him wrestle as Johnny Curtis you’d know he can wrestle just fine. For now he’s just coming out and being a weird little jerk and I’m loving it to death really. Of course, this is what I said about Funkasaurus when he first came out, so I’m wary. However, until that happens (and knowing WWE, it probably will), I’m going to let myself enjoy it without letting my pessimism ruin everything for me.
So a long time ago on this column I wrote about how Dolph Ziggler should be the Bane to Jericho’s Batman, and break him and yadda yadda, it was a tired joke then too. Well that’s all horses*** now. Fandango is clearly the one who must end Jericho, because while the match between Jericho and Ziggler was top-notch, it was SO CLEARLY OVERSHADOWED IN EVERY WAY, by Fandango showing up just to dance on Jericho’s corpse, beat him up, and then yell over and over “SAY MY NAME! SAY MY NAME!” which is one of the most psychotically amazing things I’ve seen in wrestling for a long while. There’s something inherently emasculating and psychotic about a flamenco dancer in bright sequins and skin-tight gold bands beating the crap out of you demanding you say his ridiculous name to him. It’s some straight up gangster s**t. You know how there’s always that one flamboyant guy in the bright pink suit and tie in the club, who everybody says you should never mess with? And then you do and you find out he has a collection of human ears and eyeballs from everyone who’s crossed him? That’s Fandango. He’ll rip your goddamned eyes out and demand you say his name correctly.
Is it obvious enough I love Fandango guys? BECAUSE I REALLY REALLY LOVE HIM YOU GUYS.
This whole “enemy of my enemy” thing is a bit of weak sauce storyline, because it’s more or less the same dynamic they’ve been doing, but now they’ve replaced The Ryback with Big Show. It’s definitely an upgrade, and if TLC was any indication they’ll have an amazing match at Wrestlemania, but the whole thing seems a bit by the numbers for me. Although I do got to say I approve of The Shield showing up to beat up Sheamus for no real reason, because f*** Sheamus. Seriously. The fact it devolved into a typical backstage fight is secondary to my joy of seeing Sheamus begin to talk, and being brutally interrupted. It’s like The Shield are my own personal buddies who beat the crap out of the dumb people I hate, and it rules.
When this match was announced I just laughed because pffffftttt really? The Uso’s versus Mark Henry? Really? Of course the match went predictably enough with The Uso’s getting murdered in the ring. I love seeing a good handicap match and I really don’t’ get tired of Mark Henry doing that murdering. While the match itself was fairly rote, I did get into a brilliant conversation while watching it with a friend, who keeps misremembering Mark Henry’s new catchphrase, which is the incredibly apt “THAT’S WHAT I DO!”, which is one of the best catchphrases because it’s terrifying, blunt, and effective. However he keeps thinking it’s “THAT’S ALL I KNOW!” which is probably one of the funniest damned things I’ve ever heard in my entire life. The idea of a tortured, utterly broken Mark Henry who can only communicate his emotions through physical pain is a great one. He would just show up randomly, World’s Strongest Slam them, then start weeping and yell out “THAT’S ALL I KNOW!!!”, while all Lawler and Cole speak in Owen Voices about how Mark Henry is just a product of societies ills, and we can’t truly judge him for his actions because this really IS all he knows. Jerry would disagree and call him a monster. He’d be a layered, complex character who could only exist in the world of wrestling, because it’s the only job you could randomly assault all of your co-workers and it’s considered good for business. Eventually his character arc would wrap up with Mark Henry somehow, being reached by Mae Young once again.
He’d want to love her, and show them he cares, but he can’t, because all he knows how to do is to create pain. He then decides to make the ultimate expression of self-sacrifice and love, and World’s Strongest Slams himself off of a cliff, the entire time yelling “THAT’S ALL I KNOOOOWWW”. We’d cut back and see AJ or Kaitlyn looking mortified while holding Mae Young, and we’d all question if all along it was actually WE who were the monster, not him.
This match is a little inconsequential because it only lasted for a few minutes before Jack Swagger came out and attacked poor, injured Ricardo Rodriguez, and sure enough like a good-good guy Alberto Del Rio immediately dropped any pretenses that this match mattered to help his friend in need. It’s a simple thing really, but it’s the sort of thing I love to see, and I love the idea of friendship, loyalty and fighting against bigotry with honor and respect being communicated through this storyline. I recently got into a debate with a friend online about the whole Jack Swagger thing, and he brought up a very valid, but still debunk able concern. His issue was with Jack Swagger being on tv, portrayed as a racist was in poor taste, and unneeded. He understood that he’s meant to be a bad guy, but didn’t want to expose his son to any hate speech, or messages of racism and bigotry. Which is totally noble, admirable, and proof he’s just trying to be a good father. My counterpoint to his argument was that Jack Swagger/Zeb Colter are NOT good guys, and obviously so. They’re meant to do more than get cheap heat by being racist and inflammatory, they’re symbols. They’re ugly symbols of an ugly thing that exists in our society, because people like Swagger and Colter really do exist, and are monsters that should be vilified and hated. They’re parallels to these kinds of people who children watching WWE will eventually grow up and have to deal with, and unfortunately that’s something they’re going to have to learn about at some point in time.
Now I’m not saying every kid should have their innocence spoiled as soon as possible, so they realize how unfair and unjust the world can be, but the WWE is doing a ballsy, daring, bold move by portraying these kinds of characters, and by having them be combatted by a latino good guy who’s meant to be our representation of everything that’s against those bigoted, hate filled beliefs. If there’s any one appropriate way to teach your kid about who NOT to be, and who to idolize and look up to, it’s this Jack Swagger/Alberto Del Rio feud. It’s a very clear-cut case of right and wrong, reflected by the WWE with these characters, who are in turn reflecting different viewpoints of society. It’s a story that has parables to real life, and in that way it’s one of the more legitimately important ones the WWE has. It’s nice that John Cena REALLY REALLY wants to beat The Rock and everything, but if just one kid grows up seeing the good example set by Alberto Del Rio, learns to shun and ignore people like Swagger/Colter, then that’s infinitely more important and interesting to me. Wrestling is an art form like no other that has the capability to tell real life moralistic stories of justice, that reflect the way our society is, and for them to take that opportunity and use it is something special. It’s certainly better than having all your bad guys be “bad” just because they’re arrogant or have facial hair. What better, safer place than the WWE for a kid to get his first lessons on hating racism and bigotry? It’s certainly more age appropriate than most movies or tv shows about racism, and it’s a hell of a lot more fun. I applaud Swagger, Colter and the WWE for having the guts to take on this kind of character, because it MEANS something in the final analysis of things.
Hey look the Prime Time Players got beat by Team Hell No again. This is what, the 40th time now? I don’t think I can write about this exact same match anymore. There’s nothing left to say other than I’d like to see Kane and Daniel Bryan in singles competition, so have them lose the titles to Ziggler and Big E or whatever until the same thing happens with Ziggler and Big E, until somebody else wins it from them and the same thing happens with them and OH GOD IT’S AN INFINITE LOOP HELP MAKE IT STOP SOMEBODY GET THE WWE A REAL TAG TEAM DIVISION AGAIN PLEEEAAASSEEE!
I’m gonna ignore the fact that Triple H/Brock Lesnar is the stupidest thing ever because these idiots take a whole month to have a conversation that could literally be done in 5 minutes flat, and they’re both big dumb meat heads who’ve weaseled their way to the top and are more or less just jerks I don’t care about. The thing that pisses me off is that Triple H is such a stupid, vain, lousy character that he has to go and assault Wade Barrett for no damned reason near the end of that video. Triple H wraps up his speech, Wade Barrett walks out because HE WAS SCHEDULED TO, AND THERE’S A CARD, YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS TRIPLE H YOU RUN THE DAMN COMPANY DON’T YOU? And for no reason Triple H just kicks him in the balls, because oh yeah he’s the biggest, baddest, toughest guy in the room. He’s like the real life equivalent of those Internet Tough Guys who’ll comment on your blog and threaten to beat you up, and oh my god just make him shut up. He’s seriously the worst boss ever, because Wade Barrett can’t even go and file a complaint with HR or anything because Triple H will just veto it or whatever. I bet he even suspended Wade’s pay afterward he’s that much of a prick. God Triple H is the worst.
HOLY CRAP! A TOTALLY DECENT, LEGIT MID CARD MATCH! I mean sure it still has the problem of the championship being devalued by its champion being beaten, but at least it’s by somebody within the mid-card, and not just him being jobbed out to one of the Invincible White Guys of the WWE like Sheamus or Randy Orton for the millionth time. It was a really invigorating, well balanced match with both Miz and Barrett totally working well off of each other, and creating real suspense and drama throughout the match. I loved it, so of course the audience started chanting “Boring” during the middle of it, because those leptons don’t go there to actually watch wrestling, they just want to watch Triple H cut promos about how HE’S THE GAME and oh my god I’m gonna barf everywhere. It’s a wrestling show people. Don’t be BORED when there’s actual WRESTLING happening! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!?
This match wasn’t even fair. Who seriously expected anything other than them being utterly crushed by The Shield? If you did, congratulations you’re officially retarded.
RIP Zack Ryder. May your stupid, annoying bones rest in Kane’s Hell.
So lets take a moment and be glad the Bella Twins are back, and that if you couldn’t tell them apart before, you definitely can now.
So now they’re just parading around as the girlfriends of Team Rhodes Scholars, which to me just spells them out more and more as being totally awesome, super cool dudes. I don’t understand how they’re bad guys at all. They’re smart, funny, have awesome facial hair, and hang out with hot chicks. TWIN hot chicks! They’re more or less exactly the dudes you wanted to be in High School but weren’t, and they accomplished it all by being their own clever, thoughtful, snarky selves. But somehow we’re supposed to hate them and instead cheer this weird team up of Tensai and Funkasaurus because they like to dance. I like dancing as much as the next guy, but I like being smart and hanging out with hot chicks a lot more. But that’s just me.
I have a theory that The Ryback must be getting weaker, or 3MB must be accumulating strength from all of their combined losses. The fact of the matter is that a few months ago, this would have been a 2 minute squash, and The Ryback would have killed all of them in the first 3 seconds and spent the next 90 seconds marching around their dead bodies while leading his own chants or whatever. Now it’s an actual match where they manage to weaken and stun him for a moment, only to be beaten down inevitably. Sure they’re gonna lose, but the fact is they held their ground, and died fighting. They’re like heroic Spartans to The Ryback’s Xerxes. The Ryback may be a golden god king, but 3MB showed him he’s mortal tonight by throwing their spear of offense at him, barely grazing him. They showed him he’s not a God-King, but a man.
Tonight, The Ryback had his fill.
HEY A DIVAS MATCH OH MY GOD! GUYS DO A SHOT! Oh did I not tell you? Yeah we do shots when there’s a Diva’s match now. They’re not very often, so your shot will get pretty nasty sitting there week after week, but it’s nowhere near the shot I take every time I see Tyson Kidd on Raw. That shot’s been sitting there for months now, and it’s attracted a sizable amount of dead gnats and flies and dust. I’m kinda dreading Tyson Kidd’s return to be honest, because I really don’t wanna take that shot.
Anyhow, back to the match itself, WOO GOD I LOVE THESE WOMEN! This feud has been a long time coming and it’s about time they got to it. They’re probably the only two characters whose friendship has had real ups and downs, and meaning behind it that could be used to enhance this into a full on, actual Diva’s storyline other than just “You’re a bitch, I don’t like you!” I want to see Kaitlyn beat AJ sure, but I want to see Kaitlyn REACH AJ too, make her see how she had been acting, and for AJ to reach Kaitlyn see her errors too, and how badly Kaitlyn treated AJ in kind. Basically I’m saying they should turn this into a story arc from HBO’s Girls, but with less clothes, hotter girls, and literal fighting to resolve their issues. That’s about all you could ask for I think.
Hey I guess The Rock and John Cena are gonna fight again at Wrestlemania or something I’m not sure. What’s that? Oh they’ve only been talking about it stupidly, endlessly, boringly, and infuriatingly for weeks now? And they’ve both made no new points or established any stakes other than they both REALLY REALLY wanna win? Sounds great bro, let me know how it goes. I’m gonna sit here and hope CM Punk ends The Undertaker’s streak, because as far as I’m concerned that’s the real main event of Wrestlemania 29. Now excuse me while I ogle some pictures of AJ and Kaitlyn.
Tonight’s Raw was a blast from the past with a theme that I can certainly get behind, that theme being “Old School” night. Sure it’s a cheap way to get people excited and induce nostalgia, but seeing that old logo and introduction brings back great memories from when I was a kid watching WWF with my gramps, and well that’s what nostalgia is for isn’t it? It also helps that last week’s Raw was particularly bad, so riding on the heels of that this was a breath of fresh air. Furthermore any episode of Raw that opens up with The Undertaker returning to ominously raise his arms and summon fire and lightning is fine by me.
As if that wasn’t enough, then CM Punk strolls on out, more or less to complain. He’s in this great place right now where you can tell he just loves annoying the fans, and isn’t above getting cheap heat by acting like an indignant bastard. The thing about Punk for me is despite trying his hardest to be super annoying, I still find him innately likable. For me, if there’s no Punk at Wrestlemania, it’s not purposeless, but it sure does seem like it. Whenever Punk comes out and talks about something, you believe him, even if what he’s saying is complete BS. He’s that damn good on the mic that he makes me even tolerate and accept the entire concept of “straight edge”, which if you knew anything about how often I drink you’d know that’s a damn good feat.
He was interrupted by Randy Orton, Sheamus, and Big Show however. Since it’s the beginning of Raw, and despite being Old School night, that doesn’t mean that typical Raw clichés won’t apply, which is that any group of people talking at the beginning of Raw, will inevitably end up fighting at the end in some kind of fatal 4 way/tag team match. The tag team clause triples if there is a Teddy Long presence anywhere within 1000 feet of the ring.
Here’s a good chance to explain to those who don’t know, what the words “shoot” and “kayfabe” mean, in terms of literal character strength. In the WWE, The Ryback has been trumped up and promoted as being “The Strongest” in the company. He can lift two guys over his head (as long as they’re both really skinny), and certainly looks like a living human action figure. He has the look of strength, but still has trouble lifting any guy over 200 pounds over his head. Then you have a guy like Antonio Cesaro, who has consistently been able to dead lift 400+ pound dudes, and occasionally picks people up by their legs and smashes them into walls. Also there was that one time where he picked a guy up by the legs, and spun him around 100 GODDAMNED TIMES .
Antonio Cesaro is shoot stronger than The Ryback, because he’s clearly and obviously really picking up dudes using his actual strength. The Ryback while strong sure, is just a weightlifter who counts on getting the assistance from his opponent to help along his feats of strength. Here’s a good way to tell if someone is strong for real or not: If they’re lifting people up by the legs and swinging them into walls, they’re DAMN STRONG.
That match was immediately followed up with a match between Zack Ryder and Mark Henry, which is a laughable pair up at best. I don’t think Zack Ryder even made it longer than 1 minute before he got World’s Strongestly Slammed into the ring and died a horrible death. I know a lot of people feel like Zack Ryder is this under appreciated godsend, but he had a big push last year, and his character was AWFUL. He was a stupid, pussy whipped, weak willed moron who couldn’t even get the girl (Eve)who was right in front of him, and ended up losing her interest to JOHN CENA of all people. Then he went and started acting like she was a total “hoeski” for not sitting around and waiting for him to grow some balls, and both and he and Cena went on slut shaming her for the next year because she kissed Cena once. After he rescued her from notorious fire rapist Kane. How DARE she get emotional and weird and kiss a guy after being saved from fire rape! WHAT A SLUT RIGHT? BETTER MAKE A SHI**Y OVERPRODUCED SONG ABOUT IT.
That’s who Zack Ryder is now folks. He’s that annoying friend of yours who talks up how much of a ladies man he is, but never ever gets laid, and wears lots of bronzer and spikes his hair and can’t wrestle. Why do you like him again internet? Why?
This match is yet another testament to how good Dolph Ziggler is at losing. He can make guys like even The Miz look like total powerhouses, and if it weren’t for all of The Miz’s other mediocre matches, you’d think he was this great all the time. I do want Ziggler to cash in his contract and become champion and attain greatness and all that, but to be honest I’m perfectly fine watching him lose all the time and getting everybody over. He’s like the anti-John Cena that way. Plus I really love Ric Flair and any time I get to see him strut around like a rooster, elbow drop the mat for no reason and yell out WOO indiscriminately, I’m pretty happy.
Oh boy. This whole promo was just one big exercise in both of these egomaniacs trying to get the last word on one another. It was one big circle jerk of “No I’ll beat YOU!” “No!” “No I’ll beat YOU!”, over and over again that communicated every main talking point they made last year, with the added subtext of Cena’s “Oh I’ve failed now, I need redemption” rhetoric that’s so trite it makes The Rock’s talking points of “DON’T BE A WOMAN, WOMAN, YOU’RE A WOMAN I HATE WOMEN AAARRGGGGHHH” seem almost reasonable. Well, as reasonable as a pair of dickheads can be. This is a match I honestly couldn’t care less about, if it weren’t for the fact that Cena is going to clearly win, meaning I fully plan to bet money on it and reap in the rewards. You reading this Marcos? YOUR $5 IS MINE. (Ryan, if you’re reading this, show it to Marcos.)
Not that I didn’t enjoy it, but is there a storyline reason why Swagger is attacking all of these American icon wrestlers? Is it because they don’t actively support his racist agenda? I know in reality it’s to get heat because ZOMG SO DISRESPECTFUL, but maybe I fast-forwarded through a Zeb Colter promo where he rallied against those from the past who’ve encouraged illegals through omission of condemnation? Knowing the WWE, that’s almost definitely not the case, and instead we just have a match of Swagger beating up some old timers, because he’s eeeevil now. Which is fine! I actually loved it, he’s being a really bad, bad guy! Which is good! I love it when my bad guys are actually bad, and the good guys are actually good. I’ve typed variations of that sentence probably a thousand times on this column but it just stands to reason that that’s the way things should be. Right? Right. Although I gotta say, downgrade on changing Swagger’s finisher to “The Patriot Lock” from “The Patriot Act”, which I’m guessing is from real life political pressure, because stupid racist tea party members found his character insulting, rather than recognizing he’s a cartoon because all of this is a cartoon, you’re watching a wrestling show what is wrong with you?
So what, is this like the third week in a row where the entire tag team division has been Team Hell No vs The Primetime Players? And the last two weeks it was in gimmick blindfold matches? They’ve entirely given up on any pretense of an actual, legit tag team division haven’t they? It’s just gonna be Team Hell No vs The Primetime Players forever, and nothing will change but match stipulations. Eventually it’ll be Team Hell No fighting The Primetime Players in a bikini match or something, and we’ll all wonder what prestige the Tag Titles have, or if they ever even used to mean anything at all?
Please don’t let Brodus Clay and Tensai become a real team. Please don’t let this happen. Please don’t… Oh god.
NO. THIS IS NOT WHAT SHOULD BE HAPPENING! WHY? WHAT FOUL GOD HAVE I ANGERED TO DESERVE THIS? If Funkasaurus and Tensai end up being the team that beats Team Hell No for the titles, I will eat my damn hat. Awful.
This is one of my favorite matches from the whole night for 2 main reasons. 1.) We didn’t have to see Kofi Kingston wrestling, and 2.) we finally got to see FANDANGO. Here’s a tip, if you want me to immediately love your new wrestler, all you have to do is one, give him a wonderfully obnoxious gimmick like “Flamenco dancer narcissist”, and then have him insist everyone is mispronouncing his ridiculous name. Not only will you get him to draw heat from the crowd, (because homophobia) but it’s hilarious. Nearly 3 minutes of a dude insisting you’re not pronouncing his name right because you’re not “letting the A’s breath” as you say his name, is great. I now have been walking around the house lately, grabbing random objects, dipping them like a dancer, then I rub myself a little bit and say in my most sultry voice, FAAAWWWWNNN DAAAAWWWNNNN GOOOOOOOooooo, and it’s never not fun you guys.
I may also be partially a psychopath, so there’s that.
Hey look, Triple H took 10 minutes to announce a match between him and Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania! Do you care? No? Do I? Certainly not. The biggest tip off that Triple H is a waste of time for everyone whenever he speaks is that he takes at least 10 minutes to say anything, and the good folks over at WWEYoutube edit his stuff down to less than 5 minutes. Imagine how much you’d hate The Undertaker if every year he came out and made a 20 minute long speech about HIS STREAK, and how much IT MEANT TO HIM, and droned on and on, when instead he could just point and say “YOU’RE NEXT”? You’d f***ing HATE Undertaker if he did that. So why do people cheer when Triple H does that same thing? Undertaker doesn’t even talk anymore, he just stands there and you know that it’s about to go down. Why can’t you just take a hint from Undertaker, Triple H? Why?
I love Alberto Del Rio, but Wade Barrett can’t get any respect. They’re doing a great job at devaluing what it means to be a mid-card champion by having them be beaten all the time these days, and I don’t understand it. I did enjoy that Swagger coming out didn’t distract either Barrett or Del Rio however, and instead they just ignored his presence and wrestled anyway. That’s what should happen every time, and the whole “distracted, leading to roll up pin” thing is the worst staple match finish that the WWE has, and they should stop doing it. Now that i’ve said that, it’s going to be used at least 3000 more times in my lifetime. But hey, Alberto Del Rio! Yayyy!
Seeing this match made me have a bunch of mixed emotions. On one hand, I used to love the New Age Outlaws. I used to know their whole opening spiel by heart, and couldn’t wait to say it every time they showed up. Now I watch Road Dogg do that shuffle titty shake dance knee drop thing he does, and I can’t help but think what the hell was wrong with me? I must have been a retarded little boy, because dear GOD these guys are annoying as hell, and their weird, watered down PG version of their gimmick, which was more or less “Suck My Dick”, is just terrible. The one thing I did enjoy was Rosa Mendes clearly shaking her ass over and over in front of Jerry Lawler, apparently to get him to turn back into horrible-lecherous-creep Lawler from 1999. He even mentioned (but didn’t explain) puppies! Which was his old catchphrase, that more or less communicated his desire to see the tits of any woman who was in front of him. I do the same thing sometimes, but I’m not on live television performing in front of millions of children, okay? So there’s a difference there. Also my catchphrase is “Show me your tits”, which isn’t as catchy as “Puppies!”, but it’s a hell of a lot more direct. My other catchphrase is “I Am A Great Man”, so you know…
I’m a super cool dude.
This was a pretty great match that consisted of 4 dudes just trading finishing moves back and forth. If you’re gonna do big dumb hoss wrestling, this is the way I like it. Have some dudes get in there, have ’em trade chops and kicks for a while, then just go insane with finishers. It makes for a good end to the show, and it creates realistic suspense between who could actually pull off the win. They did a good job keeping everyone who had easily predicted Punk as being the obvious winner, by seemingly putting him out of the picture early on, and having him pick up a “cheap” (but still clean), win at the end via GTS. Out of all the people in this match, Punk is the most interesting to feud with Undertaker because you’ve got two legends facing each other, only one is being made and the other nearly ending. It’s a great dynamic, of the beginning and the end, of respect versus the streak, and personal achievements measured as success. 434 days vs 20-0. It’ll be a great match, even if I do expect Undertaker to win. But, it’ll be fun to hope Punk beats him.
If there was anyone who I think Undertaker SHOULD be beaten by, it’d be either Punk, for the reasons I stated above, or Kane. Kane makes the most sense to me, because in storyline terms, he was the one who has always had an equal standing with Undertaker in terms of kayfabe strength and heart, as well as fire powers to match Undertaker’s lightning powers. On top of that, it’d be great to see that character arc finally resolve with Kane burying Undertaker, once and for all. But perhaps that’s a bit too “gimmicky” for the WWE now, and if it’s gonna be Punk, then let’s let it be Punk. I’m all for it. Wrestlemania, get here already. Let’s go.
Tonight’s Raw opens up after Elimination Chamber, as PPV that managed to somehow surprise me and simultaneously give me exactly what I expected at the same time. There’s plenty of other coverage of that particular PPV elsewhere on the internet, but let me say this, I certainly never expected Jack Swagger to come back and get such a strong push so quickly.
However, when Raw actually opens, it of course opens with John Cena giving a promo. Thankfully this time it didn’t meander too long, or get into any terrible Star Wars jokes, or do anything other than make me wish he’d get to his point. There’s all kinds of talk and ballyhoo about Cena online, and whether he’s actually a competent wrestler on the mic as well as the ring and whatnot, but frankly I’m just really sick of his character. I don’t think he needs a new gimmick, because “Big strong guy who doesn’t give up” is an archetypal wrestling character that has been around long before, and still will be long after him. It’s just I find his particular breed of that character so darn boring, unrelatable, and commonly annoying. There’s been plenty spoken about how he effectively reduces the drama in most matches because he’s only really lost clean four goddamned times in the last four years.
On top of that, I can’t think of a way to really fix his character other than as I’ve previously said on this column, making him a werewolf. But that just goes to show what a weird/awesome/terrible booker I’d be. Also most of my solutions to problems in fiction tend to be “Add werewolves”. Regardless, the one thing I’ve read online that actually makes sense in regards to fixing his Invincible Super-Cena character is Angry Jake’s idea, which is to have him keep winning. In a nutshell, the problem with Cena is he never loses, so to make him interesting and possibly even have a heel turn, just have him keep winning. Have him win every single belt in the company, until everyone absolutely hates to see him because he’s nigh unstoppable. Make him even go after the Divas belt, and make the Divas division relevant via inter-gender matches being a new staple of the WWE. It’d be damn radical, and pretty grueling to have to endure for a year or more, but worth it to get a decent character arc out of Cena other than ” Will give up? -> No”.
Basically in a roundabout way, I’m expecting Punk and Cena to come to a draw next week, and thusly we’ll get a triple threat match for the title at Wrestlemania.
The best thing about Mark Henry is he’s one of the few big guys that almost never acts cowardly, and makes a habit of showing up, crushing people into dust, and screaming loudly about that being what he does. It’s a great character, he’s an awesome giant strong man wrestler, and if anybody should be getting a World HEAVYweight championship push, it’s him. They had a thing last year where he had the belt, and it seemed like they were building him up to be an unstoppable monster of a man, but it just sort of petered out. Granted it resulted in the massive explosion of popularity that Daniel Bryan received, but I still looked forward to that scene of multiple wrestlers coming to each other’s side to overcome this impossible obstacle of a man. I want them to build that story back up, and in the meantime if Mark Hentry wants to World’s Strongest Slam Hornswoggle or Great Khali a few more times, I’m all for it.
On a second note, C’mon Mark, WHY are you running from Khali? He can barely walk. Just kick him. Once. He’ll go down.
FAWN-DAWN-GOOOOOOOOO! Debut this guy already, he’s still too sexy! TOO SEXY!
I know they’re trying to build up The Miz as a face, and as such are finally beginning to have Cesaro use underhanded tactics to keep his championship. That’s mostly to boost The Miz, because you can only have your heel champion out wrestle and out perform your face contender so many times before people start wondering why the hell they’re even supposed to be cheering the face to begin with. At least, that’s how it should be, but it isn’t. The fact is that Antonio Cesaro is crazy impressive inside and outside the ring in every way, and makes The Miz look like dogsh*t every time they match up. I really can’t suspend by disbelief that Miz could beat Cesaro, and they haven’t done a good job making Miz seem like any kind of an underdog, or given him any sort of reason to actually feud with Cesaro other than “He talked rude to me once”. I even believed Cesaro said it was Miz who attacked him first, for no real reason, which to me really spells it all out. Face Miz is more or less pointless because he’s not endearing enough to be an underdog, and he’s not strong or talented enough to really impress in the ring. To quote Stringer Bell he’s a 40 degree day, and nothing about him is currently interesting or noteworthy. At least when he was a heel, he was incredibly annoying and I could love to hate him, like a good heel. Now he’s just kind of there.
Like I said before, the most surprising outcome from Elimination Chamber was Jack Swagger winning his Elimination Chamber match. Of course the second he did, it all made sense that now he’s a weird jingoistic birther/truther/tea party xenophobe racist, he’d of course have a feud with Alberto Del Rio, who is now firmly at the top as the HERO OF MEXICO!™ That doesn’t mean I think that’s a bad thing actually, just the opposite. I look forward to seeing the heels in WWE being incorrigible, awful people, and the faces being actual heroes actually fighting for justice and giving bad men their comeuppance. It’s one of the basic tenements of Professional Wrestling, and weirdly and sadly it’s been so muddled by the WWE that seeing little glimpses of it here and there fills me with joy..
This doesn’t solve the Dolph Ziggler problem though, who over the course of the last 10 months or so, has held onto his Money In The Bank contract, and despite several fake outs, has yet to cash it in. I used to have a problem with this because I saw it as them holding him back, but now I see it as a new opportunity that’ll never get used, but bear with me for a moment while I play armchair booker.
Basically, I’d have DZ guard and defend his MITB contract, well until the next MITB PPV. Then suddenly there’d be dueling MITB contracts, and an argument would be made between Ziggler and the new MITB holder on whose contract actually “counted”. They end up having to have it settled by whoever is Managing Manager at the time, and they’d pick one of two different options. The first would be that both contracts count, and can be used at any time, which would lead to some interesting tit-for-tat dynamics between DZ and the current MITB winner. The second would be a match to see who gets the rights to BOTH contracts, with the winning getting to use the second contract not as a guaranteed shot at the World Heavyweight Championship, but almost a “wild card” contract he can use on any title he wants. This could lead to lots of possibilities, but it could also lead to a unified championship reign, which could be interesting for a while.
Although in real life, Dolph Ziggler will probably just cash in at Wrestlemania. Harumph.
Ugh. Worst new tag team ever? World new tag team ever. Your last-ditch attempt to make Tensai relevant or over in any fashion is so transparent I could use it as a sunroof. I see through you WWE. You’re not going to make me like big awful boring fat guys by making them dance.
I like/hate Jack Swagger’s new racist character. I like that it’s an awful, terrible character who is backed by an even more awful, terrible manager. I like that I hate him, and I can’t wait for him to be beaten by Alberto Del Rio and for good to prevail. I hate that I still have this sinking feeling that somehow he’ll still not be hated as much as he should be by WWE audiences, or that even worse, some will find his message of xenophobia and misplaced nationalism in the guise of patriotism as something to embrace. RACISM IS BAD FOLKS, OKAY? DO I HAVE TO REMIND YOU?
This is just yet another example though of how all gimmicks aside, when you get two talented wrestlers in the ring, you’re gonna have a great match. Swagger is a talented individual in the ring, and if continued to be used properly, could only go up from here. Daniel Bryan is stuck in his weird tweener limbo, and it looks like he’ll be breaking up with Kane soon (Oh No!), but he’ll always be damn talented and able to give an entertaining match. My only real problem with this match was Swagger beating Daniel Bryan with The Patriot Act, because it’s the easiest submission to get out of ever the way Swagger applies it. Normally this isn’t that big a deal, but when for years Daniel Bryan’s whole thing was “I know the counter to every submission, I know every submissions, I apply submissions in my sleep, I eat submissions for breakfast”, well it comes off a bit disingenuous to say the least.
Oh great a 5 minute long promo announcing a match between two old guys who don’t actually wrestle. That’s time spent well on your 3 hour show Vince McMahon. Why don’t you follow it up by having a video package about all the dinner plans you’ll be making. Call it “Slamstagram” and make it into a wrestling themed food/social networking/photo app. That’ll pull those butts in the seats! Don’t focus on quality wrestling or anything!
Although I am glad Brad Maddox is back. He’s my hero.
I’ve heard a lot of people say they don’t like The Shield and continually I don’t understand why. They’ve never really done anything wrong or bad, and really they’re just pursuing their own interests in a way that happens to rub the “fan favorites” or whatever wrong. The other problem people seem to have with them is they don’t want to see them as a team apparently? Which baffles me because they’re excellent as a team. They use strategy, smart tactics and quick thinking to win matches. They all have clearly defined roles in their team, and they use that effectively every time they show up. I understand where some people are coming from when they say they want to see them in singles matches, but it doesn’t change the fact that what they’re doing right now totally works. Why should they break up for no real reason, when you can have them be an exciting, dominating, talented stable?
My only real problems with The Shield are 1.) Look how damn greasy they are. I mean seriously, have you seen Roman Reign’s hair? It’s so matted down with oil it’s gotta be goddamned disgusting to touch. They’re like a group of three really oily bros who walk around together, find random video cameras on the floor, talk into them angrily and then go back to oiling each other up. Perhaps they’re sponsored by Johnson’s baby oil? If they are they’re not getting paid enough because they seemingly can’t afford to purchase consistent camera equipment. But I kid, I kid. I love The Shield, I just want to see Roman Reigns wash his damn hair. I mean I don’t want to SEE it, but I’d….
You know – nevermind. I’ll stop while I’m ahead.
Oh hey look! R-Truth is back and… he’s teaming up with Kofi Kingston again. Oh god. OH NO. OH GO-*barfs everywhere*
WHY?! WHAT DID I DO WRONG? WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME GOD? Ugh. Until they break up, from now on R-Truth will be added to my Kofi Kingston “Do Not Write” clause. Which is to say, I’m so sick of seeing Kofi, that anyone he’s teaming with, regardless of how long they’ve actually been in or back to the WWE, shall become included with his clause.
This is it. This is the beginning of the end for Team Hell No. It’s been building for a while now, but I’m surprised to say it looks like Daniel Bryan is the one who will be triggering the events that create the falling out between himself and Kane. I thought for sure Kane would have gone all psycho devil’s demon on him, but it’s in fact DB’s own hubris and ego that have led him to interrupting this match, leading Kane to lose. Let’s ignore for a moment how lame and clichéd the “unexpected interruption, leading to surprise roll up pin/ finisher” is, and instead focus on how purposefully Daniel Bryan walked out there tonight. This wasn’t a misguided attempt to help Kane in any way. He willfully walked out there knowing it would distract Kane, so he would lose. It’s gone from accidental to on purpose now, and I’m presuming next week we’ll see the same sort of thing inverted, with Kane being the interrupter. While I’ll be sad to see one of my favorite tag teams break up, they’ve run their course, and it will inevitably lead to an interesting feud between the two, where actual pathos can be injected into the match. You have the opportunity to tell a great story here WWE, so don’t waste it. You can make their grudge matches absolutely heartbreaking. Why not go for that?
I’m gonna leave The Rock alone here for a minute and instead let’s talk about this new belt. First off, there’s been a ton of people who hate it and want the spinner belt back, which is mind-boggling. These people are wrong, because the spinner belt was terrible for many reasons, the chief of which, aside from being so damn tacky, is that it was made for one damn person. It was made for Cena, who blinged it out like some kind of gaudy hubcap piece of crap and then somehow that became the belt even after he lost it, but I’m assuming that’s because he always intended to keep winning it over and over ad infinitum. Well if there’s one thing The Rock has done right it’s debut a new belt in its place and it looks uhhh…
Well it looks different enough I suppose. It’s not great, but it’s absolutely better than the spinner belt, and clearly the Brahma Bulls on the side are meant to be customizable for each individual champion, if that’s what the implication is. You could have spinners again for Cena, the fist with the lightning bolt for Punk, or a big slab of meat for The Ryback, if any of them ever became champions with this belt. It’s not a great belt design by any stretch of the imagination, but holy god anything would have been better than that spinner belt. I would have even liked it if The Rock unveiled it and the belt was just one big shiny, golden caricature of his own face, and Rock held it up high over his own face and made the same expression as the belt. He’d be the Rick Ross of WWE champions in that way, and even I would have to admit that’s hilariously egocentric to the point of being absurdly awesome.
And last but certainly not least, Raw ends with John Cena coming out to say something long and stupid, but is interrupted by CM Punk coming out and clobbering him in the head with the old spinner belt, then slamming it to the ground, proclaiming he wants the new belt instead. It’s a fitting end to that stupid spinner belt that it’d last be used to knock out Cena, and thankfully, that’s the LAST time it’ll ever be used. Punk standing over Cena’s unconscious body and pointing ominously is how Raw should always end, if you ask me.
Tonight’s Raw opens up with Paul Heyman taking the center stage, as he begins to make a promo, addressing the audience plainly, asking for mercy from the cacophony of boos, in order to get to say what he has to say. While I understand he’s supposed to be booed, it doesn’t change the fact that his promo, ostensibly to announce his “retirement”, was worthy of being listened to, and even cheered for. It was a moment of Heyman weaving in and out of his character masterfully as he brought up all of his talking points including Brock Lesnar, CM Punk, and of course ECW. The crowd seemed particularly schizophrenic as they booed Heyman, cheered ECW, booed Lesnar, then cheer/booed CM Punk. Which is even more puzzling because last time Lesnar showed up people cheered for him like crazy, so I’m guessing depending on which region of the country you’re from changes your opinion of who or whatever Paul Heyman involves himself with. Heyman tendering his resignation was almost a really sad moment, but it was interrupted by Punk himself. Seeing Punk finally comfort Paul Heyman personally, and accept him directly as his friend, keeping him from quitting was actually pretty moving. Or at least it would have been, if CM Punk didn’t have the cold, dead eyes of a serial killer while hugging Heyman.
Seriously? Mark Henry is a 400 pound insane behemoth with MURDER EYES and Great Khali is a 7 foot tall Indian guy who can barely walk. Did you expect this to be anything other than a horrific squash match? I don’t know why they keep trying to push Khali off on us, but all I can say is I’m glad Mark Henry is back. The guy should show up, slam the hell out of all the stupid wrestlers that suck, and then leave. That’s what he’s been doing so far, and If it leads to him becoming champion along the way that’s just a bonus.
This is a match that when it was made, got me really excited. Daniel Bryan always excels when he has somebody in the ring to match his skills, and Jericho, surprisingly has still got it. I’m still not quite sure how this was an Elimination Chamber qualifying match, when both participants ended up qualifying.To my understanding the winner was supposed to be the one who goes to the match, which is why when Jericho won I was initially disappointed, since I still hold onto the hope that Daniel Bryan will get back into the major title running again. I know it’s not likely to happen, since both Kane and Daniel Bryan will be in the Elimination Chamber, which virtually guarantee’s they’re interfere with each other, and neither will win. It’s disheartening, but I can accept it. The real loss here is that Jericho is back as a face again, which isn’t nearly as fun as heel Jericho. I’m guessing he’ll leave again after Elimination Chamber to go play more butt rock worldwide, which is a real shame when you think about it.
This is probably the worst example of booking I could possibly think of. This is the kind of match you’d make as a joke in a video game, and laugh at with your friends. Why they decided to actually make Cena, The Ryback and Sheamus an actual team of Invincible White Men is beyond me, but then to have them face off against the poor, barely struggling to get by, 3MB? It’s like watching a child smashing an ant hill for fun. Scratch that, it’s like watching a roiled out muscle man smash an anthill for fun, then pound his chest screaming “F*** ANT HILLS FEELLLLLAAAA”, marching around to his own music and cheering himself on for having decimated the miniature ecosystem of a bunch of ants. Worst is that in this terrible analogy onlookers seeing the man stomp the ant hill are cheering him, WILDLY to do so, and holding up signs that say “DOWN WITH ANTS”, or “U CANT C ME”, and enthusiastically cheer as the man pours water down into the neighboring ant hill, drowning them all and killing the colony.
I guess what I’m saying here is I’d really like The Colony from Chikara to show up and beat the hell out of these guys, but I know that’d never happen because well, they’re ants.
This wasn’t an actual match but holy crap this segment had me dying. Yoshi Tatsu’s incredibly stilted, yet somehow still remarkably enthusiastic response to everything Alexy Riley says had me in stitches. He’s just kinda nodding along and saying “Yeah!” in agreement, and I’m convinced he didn’t entirely understand what Alex Riley was saying at all. It’s also notable this is the first time I’ve seen Alex Riley in MONTHS, so I guess it’s good he’s not dead? I’m not sure if he still has his stupid haircut because of his hat, but I’d be willing to bet he does. The best part of this clearly, was Big Show showing up to clock both of them for just talking about him poorly. It’s like I said months ago in this column, if you talk trash about the Big Show, he WILL just stealthily ninja his way out of nowhere and punch you with his giant rocket fists.
Also holy crap, thank you Big Show for finally, FINALLY just punching Matt Stryker in his stupid little worm face. Thank you.
Oh man this segment. So there was a lot of speculation as to what Jack Swagger’s new returning gimmick would be, and in his absence there was some hilarious guesses and hyperbole put out there by the IWC, and one of the more popular ones was an astronaut. In that he left abruptly to “Go to his home planet”, ala Poochie from The Simpsons, and was returning from Mars. Because he was Jack Swagger of Mars. Get it?
Well that didn’t happen, and he just showed up as himself with a little bit of a beard and his hair not combed to the side any more. He looked a bit gruffer, and renamed his ankle lock submission The Patriot Act, and that was the first clue that things were going terribly wrong. When he first showed up tonight I was happy to see him wrestle again, because I think he’s actually pretty impressive, and I like his All American American gimmick. I didn’t know what to expect from the weird, mustachioed little man who was following Swagger until he started to speak after the match. I’m not familiar with Zeb Coulter, but I understand and know his character. I then watched in a mixture of stunned horror and disbelief as he started to make the most xenophobic, jingoistic, racist and white paranoia filled promo I’ve seen in a while. Short of blabbering out any slurs, he pretty much said everything he could let it be known that he was a big fat evil racist character, and had Swagger follow him along with that message by echoing a remnant from the Constitution, by saying “We The People” over and over.
I’m guessing this is to accomplish a couple of things. The first is to have a character who reflects The Tea Party in some kind of retarded, cartoonish version of what the WWE thinks is parody or cultural satire. The second and hopefully much more noble, is to firmly and rightly establish a HEEL character who is racist, that we can boo and hate, because RACISM IS BAD. The problem there is that a lot of the faces in WWE still say racist things, and generally act racist all the time, but never as blatantly as this. Ever since Alberto Del Rio became a face and a champion, Sheamus has significantly toned down on his awful racism, and there’s been a slight trend towards actually making some concretely bad heels, and concretely good faces. It’s slow pickin’s but progress is progress I guess. My main problem here is I feel this is supposed to make Jack Swagger a bad guy, but I’m afraid he’ll somehow get cheered and treated like a good guy anyway, because this is the WWE.
Ultimately, I’m disappointed because it’s not that interesting of a character, and ultimately is a bit damaging and backwards for a character to behave. It also immediately made me kind of hate Jack Swagger’s character for going along with this racist buffoon, but I suppose that’s the point? I hope? If this all turns out really bad in a month or so, let’s just pretend it never happened and go back to happy fun time All American American American Jack Swagger! Okay? Please?
Ok yeah yeah, Miz and Cody Rhodes, that match was fine. Sure. Whatever. Ignore that part, and go to 2:23 of that video, and watch Antonio Cesaro LITERALLY manhandle The Miz, as he picks him up by the legs like a rag doll and BASHES HIS SKULL INTO THE WALL OVER AND OVER AGAIN LIKE A BEAST.
If you’re somehow still not convinced that Antonio Cesaro is the shoot strongest there is, then I don’t know what to tell you. The guy dead lifts dinosaurs, throws people 10 feet up in the air to uppercut their heads off, and now picks people up by their feet to smash them into walls. I don’t have much else to say about this match because any and all memories of it were annihilated by Antonio Cesaro, yet again being the best and brightest in and around the ring.
So Tensai has failed miserably to get over with the audience as anything and it seems like they’ve finally gone and pulled out the last-ditch effort to keep him relevant, by teaming him up with Funkasaurus and having him dance. On one hand, gross. On the other, I actually almost kinda enjoyed it? I suppose it’s actually because Primo and Epico are so fantastically boring to me that I don’t mind watching them get squashed by fat guys who can barely move. That’s Funkasaurus anyway, Tensai can move but nobody wants to watch him do so. In a way I almost feel bad for Tensai, because nobody has ever really liked him, no matter the gimmick. People hated him back when he was Prince Albert, (and can you blame them? Go google Prince Albert WWF if you don’t believe me. And DO NOT forget the WWF part or you’ll be sorry.), he didn’t get over as “A-Train”, and now he’s back as Tensai and still being mostly ignored if not hated.
While I do enjoy the lighthearted approach to Tensai’s character as a comedic foil, it still doesn’t work for me. Sure I enjoyed watching him dance after winning this match, but we all know that can get very old very fast. I have a feeling this is the best it’s going to be for Tensai, and that this is his shining moment in the sun. He better enjoy it now, because people will just start booing him again unless he does something radical to get over quick.
I really wish Dean Ambrose did all the talking for this group. Seth Rollins has a great look, but his voice is a bit high-pitched and whiny. Roman Reigns on the other hand sounds like he wakes up every morning and gargles piss and asphalt. Ambrose is clearly the most accomplished talker amongst the three of them, so he should carry the lions share of that task. I like the look of Roman Reigns as well, but only when he stands perfectly still and doesn’t say anything. At first that’s how he was, and it totally worked. He was the silent, stoic, totally scary guy who just F-d thing ups when he did move. I like The Shield too, but even I had a hard time following this promo and what their meaning was in the long run. It seemed to drag on and repeat itself, while basically saying what we already knew. We know they’re going to stand together, and they don’t fear Cena, Sheamus or The Ryback, that’s what makes them awesome and why I liked them in the first place, but it’s been weeks now and they’ve still yet to divulge any actual character motivation, or any kind of explanation for why they’re dressed the way they are.
I’m guessing it’s because they’re meant to be mercenaries? Like wrestling mercenaries? When they first showed up I thought they were dressed in black to be disguised as the camera crew and event staffing so as to fool everybody while they hid in plain sight. It was pretty smarty and devious and totally worked. Then they started showing up looking like Big Bossman inexplicably, but they were cool and captivating and it worked for me. Each time I see them now though it’s all I can think about is WHY do they have those mercenary outfits, and WHY are they all so greasy? I know the baby oil is generally used by wrestlers to look nice and shiny for camera, and to ease friction for grappling holds and all, but Roman Reigns must seriously use about 4 bottles a day to keep his hair like that. It’s a little disgusting because every time I look at him all I can think about is feeling his hair, it being sticky to the touch and being really hard to wash off my hands. I think if there’s any unknown benefactor behind the advent of The Shield then it’s gotta be the baby oil companies.
Look, I’m just glad Alberto Del Rio is winning with the Cross Armbreaker. He’s building it up, he’s pulling it off, and the guys he’s beating are tapping excruciatingly, and immediately. It works so well that it’s finally making the move look really deadly, just the way I said it should. Along with that, ADR is basically the hero of all Mexico now, so it’d be great if he utterly beat Zeb Coulter’s brains in, along with Swagger. Let’s have that feud please? Pretty please?
As previously stated in this column, I shall no longer comment on any Kofi Kingston match. In place of commentary about Kofi Kingston, I shall simply type the following words:
Yet another example of how the rules in WWE sometimes never make sense, is that Kane won this match and is going to Elimination Chamber, but somehow Dolph Ziggler doesn’t. Even though in Daniel Bryan’s match he got to go to along with Jericho, for reasons I don’t understand. I like Ziggler, and I love his weird little trio he has currently with Big E Langston and AJ. I just want Big E to do more. Anyone who’s watched NXT knows he has that great 5 count gimmick he’s borrowing from King Kong Bundy, and he makes hilariously weird promos. Plus he has this weight lifters chalk gimmick that he sometimes uses to make a cloud of dust in people’s faces. It’s amazing. Use him as something more than “intimidating black man” please.
Ugh. This was the lowlight of the night. I’ve already gone into detail about why The Rock is a pale shadow of his former self, and the feud between him and Punk has been debated to death, but it’s thing like this that give the Punk fans more fuel to the fire. Why do we need to waste 10 minutes at the end of the show to hear some lame story about The Rock buying a stolen car from a crackhead? What did it have to do with ANYTHING? I thought he was going to tie it into calling Punk a crackhead from last week or whatever, but not even that happened. Eventually he rambled long enough to have Punk come out, smash Rock’s stupid face into his knee, and TAKE THE DAMN CHAMPIONSHIP BELT RIGHT FROM HIM.
It was awesome, and finally provided an ending to Raw that I liked, which hasn’t happened in a damn while.
Tonight’s Raw opens with CM Punk coming out to talk, almost immediately.
While I typically don’t care for it whenever Raw opens with Not Wrestling, I can make an exception for Punk because his promos are usually pretty captivating. Unfortunately tonight, while not boring, his opening promo wasn’t very captivating, and really was just a clarification of talking points made from previous weeks. Moreover than that, it’s a testament to how popular, innately relatable, smart, and likable Punk is that after everything he’s done to try to make people hate him recently, he still gets cheers just for showing up. Even ripping up a little kid’s birthday sign couldn’t get this guy real Heel heat, so what the hell is he going to have to do? Eventually it’s just going to boil down to him having to turn face again, or upping the ante by doing some Big Bossman style animal abuse or something. Either way those are things I don’t see Punk doing, so until something gives he’s gonna be stuck in this Supposed-To-Be-A-Heel character for a while now.
After all the introductory noise, we get a match that I’ve actually been looking forward to for a while now. The Ryback is supposed to be the kayfabe Strongest One There Is, while Antonio Cesaro is actually the strongest one there is, as has been demonstrated by the guy in every damn match he’s in. When it came to a match between them, it created some actual drama as to who’d win, given the nature of all previous The Ryback matches. Surprisingly, it was actually a pretty great match, and the two complemented each other well, and gol’ durn’ it there was actually some good wrestling on this wrestling show! I disliked The Ryback beating Cesaro, not only because I’m a Cesaro fan, but because it makes the US Championship look weak, but I understand they want to keep The Ryback looking strong. The problem is they do this with all of their Invincible White Guys, but you already know that. I was just glad to see Cesaro showing up The Ryback, and making him look mortal. Sometimes that’s almost as powerful as beating him.
Well I never thought I’d be saying this, but holy crap am I happy to see Jack Swagger back! The guy just sorta disappeared last year back when AJ was the Raw General Manager, and neither hide nor tail has been heard of him, until last week’s Smackdown, and tonight’s Raw. I’m glad he’s back for 2 main reasons, #1.) he has a great gimmick that’s being underutilized, especially with Cesaro having more or the less the opposite gimmick of Swagger, and #2.) it’s about time the guy got some kind of push. It seems to me like the obvious choice here is to have him feud with Cesaro, with Swagger as the All American American American, and Cesaro as the Anti-American, and they rumble to see who truly deserves the US title. It’s such obvious, plain booking it’ll either totally happen immediately, or it never will, because the WWE writers are weirdly predictable like that. They’ll either totally go with the obvious thing, or ignore it entirely. Let’s hope this time they choose the obvious one, because for once it’s a good thing. Also, Swagger re-naming his Ankle Lock submission The Patriot Act? Brilliant.
Boy am I loving Alberto Del Rio as a good guy. I seriously can’t express enough just how great it is to have a good guy who actually is good, and man I know i’ve said all of this before but DAMMIT IT”S THAT DAMN REWARDING. Plus this match was pretty great. I’ve long said before that Alberto Del Rio’s finisher being the Cross Armbar should mean that when he uses it, it should end matches immediately, and as the current face world champion that’s happening. It builds up the move as a match-stopper, and makes it realistic and fearsome. There’s no reason that you shouldn’t immediately tap when he slaps it on, so seeing Cody Rhodes quickly and painfully tap the second he used it really worked. On top of that ADR builds up the dynamic of the arm being weakened throughout the match, and you’ve finally got a submission finisher I can totally buy, rather than a weaker, faker looking version of a real MMA submission.
It’s a shame that video cuts it off, but the first few minutes of this match was a great demonstration of why Daniel Bryan is an excellent innovator who’s unafraid to try new things in the ring, or at least new things for WWE audiences, when he countered a hurracanrana into what I can only describe as a reverse backstabber, with his knees plowing into Mysterio’s chest. On top of that he countered Mysterio’s stupid little 619 finisher by just catching his damn legs, (why has nobody done that before?), and best of all ended up making Mysterio tap out with the No-Lock, which I haven’t seen anyone do in a while. Then a glorious thing happened, and MARK GODDAMNED HENRY showed up, and DESTROYED EVERYONE IN AND AROUND THE RING. I quickly started freaking out because I thought he was back to get revenge on Daniel Bryan for enabling the chain of events that would lead to him losing his championship, and Kane for injuring him last year. It was so perfect because now they’re BOTH on the same team, and it made SO MUCH SENSE. Then he brutally and viciously attacked Rey Mysterio for good measure, and caught Sin Cara’s stupid jump offense at him, and smashed him into the ring as well. All the while I kept gawking at Mark Henry’s TERRIFYING MURDER EYES.
In a show full of fairly good wrestling, I’m tempted to say this was the weakest of the bunch, but only just so. It’s not like it was bad or anything, it just didn’t stand out like the others. There was a few great moments, especially when Kane finally, FINALLY got out of that stupid 10 fists to the chest thing that Sheamus “traps” you in on the apron. It’s always driven me mad that he never even ties your arms up on the ropes or anything, as if somehow your arms just being under the ropes themselves is totally incapacitating. Regardless, Kane did what every single person should do from now on, and just took his damn arms out of the ropes and hit Sheamus to stop the stupid move. It ended lamely because Daniel Bryan came out to distract Kane, because they’re fighting right now. It led to Sheamus getting to the Brogue Kick on Kane, and picking up the win, but I’ll be damned if this doesn’t really look to spell out the end for Team Hell No. I know their whole thing is arguing and fighting, but they’re probably gonna break up soon, and that’ll be a sad day for me.
I gotta be honest, I kinda checked out on this segment. Not even the brilliant and great Paul Heyman can make Miz TV interesting. I do have to admit that I admire Paul Heyman’s dedication to his lies, and I understand the need to make it apparent that it was Vickie who re-signed Brock Lesnar and all, but that could all be handled with a quick backstage segment rather than a long, drawn out, and frankly pretty boring segment like this. I like the idea of Vickie taking comfort in Paul Heyman’s arms, because that would just be the sleaziest, creepiest, most awful power couple ever, and if things are building to that I’m pretty glad. Just as Vickie was coming out to explain herself really well, and make a bunch of salient, succinct points about her motives and logical reasoning, Miz just calls her a liar, and some bad names, until Brock Lesnar shows up. Then Brock F5’s Miz and leaves, because he’s goddamned worse than The Rock in that regard. The amount of crap people give The Rock for only showing up when it matters to him, goes goddamned DOUBLE for Brock Lesnar. The guy only shows up when his paycheck is big enough, and the only credit I can give him is that he’s honest about it. It doesn’t make me respect him at all though, and I’ve written previously in this column why I think he’s the worst, so I’ll spare you from a thousand words about why Lesnar sucks in real life too. Regardless, he works well more or less as a force of nature than as a wrestler, and I’m guessing that’s what they’re going with this time around. All I know is I certainly don’t understand why he ever gets cheered.
And here’s another example of the Invincible White Guys being invincible again. I’m really hoping that Randy Orton is going for an Intercontinental Championship run or something, because having him beat Wade Barrett only makes the champion look weak rather than Orton look strong. Sometimes I think the bookers at WWE don’t know anything about ring psychology, or proper story building, especially when it comes to mid-card championships. It’s the most schizophrenic thing they have going on in their promotion, and it’s always in a flux between the champion being dominant until they’re suddenly not anymore. It’s one of the most maddening things about the WWE.
CM Punk VS Jericho
For some RIDICULOUS reason WWE didn’t post the video of CM Punk and Jericho’s match on Raw, and now I am forced to simply visually represent it with those GIFs up there of Jericho getting put to sleep by Punk. There’s not much to say about this match other than it was great, and another great example of why Punk is really at the top of his game when up against someone who can keep up with him. Jericho is still better than most even at his advancing age, and the fact that he can still do the Lionsault is pretty amazing. It was the match of the night in a show mostly full of video packages, (of course all of THOSE got posted to the WWE youtube page, but I digress) and was well worthy of the THIS IS AWESOME chant it got. Of course, that didn’t get unrecognized by Punk, who responded in a delightfully spiteful way right in the middle of the match.
I don’t understand why we’re supposed to hate Brad Maddox. How am I supposed to hate a pitiful, desperate, willing to do whatever is needed little shrew man? He’s a pathetic antagonistic character, not a downright evil, loathable one. You’re not supposed to hate and jeer Falstaff from Shaksepeare’s Henry IV, you’re meant to look upon him as utterly pitiful and ultimately worth redemption, but simultaneously flawed and hopeless. Brad Maddox is a man drawn into a web of darkness around him he couldn’t possibly imagine the consequences of, and has paid for it over and over. He’s a tragic figure, and so The Shield mercilessly beating him up accomplishes two things. Firstly, it portrays them as ruthless villains, and secondly, it SHOULD portray Maddox in a sympathetic light. Unfortunately WWE audience’s moral barometers are so far out of sack they end up oddly cheering on the Bad Guys kicking the crap out of the poor, defenseless, little shrew man who can never win. For as much as commentators like Jerry Lawler says audiences love an underdog, boy do people sure love seeing real underdogs get beaten down over and over again.
Well you could tell Brock Lesnar was back tonight, because it seems like every time he shows up, the amount of video packages in every episode of Raw rises pretty exponentially. The dude doesn’t really do anything, so to “have” him on the show they just show what he did do at least 4 different times in their 3 hour-long program. That’s the main drawback from his presence on the show, but the good thing was that aside from all the damn video packages, we actually got a lot of great wrestling tonight. I suppose it’s a trade-off, and while it sucks to have to watch the same stupid video packages over and over, if the actual wrestling on the show is good I can deal with it. It would be too much to ask for all good segments and video packages, along with good wrestling, so I’d rather take this kind of episode over stupidly long John Cena promos, or anything involving General Manager power struggles. It’s just a reminder to the folks at WWE,that if you just show us good wrestling, everything will be fine. Seriously.
Oh also, buried throughout the myriad video packages, was this promo video for Fandango(o), which was pretty damn great. When it came on it reminded me of that old SNL skit with Chris Kattan as Antonio Banderas, and his two mariachi players in the background would beg him to not take his shirt off because it was too sexy for them.
Tonight’s episode of Raw follows probably one of the most disappointing Royal Rumbles I’ve seen in years. Disappointing mostly because it was so insanely predictable that it ended up just being depressing rather than exciting. On top of that the match between CM Punk and Rock being incredibly underwhelming, and you had a PPV I was sure glad I didn’t pay for this month.
Well tonight’s Raw is in Las Vegas, Nevada, so they’ve brought back one of the weirdest features they occasionally use, which is the Raw Roulette Wheel. Basically there’s a wheel with gimmick match types, people spin it and that’s the match they have to do. Unfortunately this means we don’t get to see a bevy of cage matches, or No DQ’s, or anything interesting. It means we get a bunch of “joke” match ups, or different things meant to essentially set up lame comedy skits. Raw was packed with that kind of thing tonight, and if it wasn’t for a handful of great moments, would have been one of the worst Raws in a long time.
Like I said, Rock and Punk’s match was very underwhelming, and without going into extreme detail (So many rest holds), I’ll just say I was disappointed that Punk “lost” after winning, because The Rock can demand a rematch immediately if he loses for some reason. However it was almost worth it to see Punk storm out on tonight’s show, absolutely fuming, barely less than 24 hours after the fact. I kept laughing at the idea that Punk had left the arena after the Rumble, into his private bus and utterly destroyed everything around him, shaking with rage. Then being tortured by it all night and day, seething with anger and waiting until Raw to talk about it. Watching him explode with anger so wildly was really funny, and somehow managed to endear him to me all the more. It’s like his passion and love of that belt has gone beyond wanting to be the champion, and is now some obsessive need that barely keeps his complete psychosis reeled in.
I’ve been pretty impressed with Randy Orton lately, not because he’s gotten better, but because he’s more or less actually taking steps to stop being an Invincible White Guy so much. Of course he’s still winning matches like this against Antonio Cesaro, but he’s out of the main title scene, and is making the mid-card work pretty well. When he’s up in the main card he’s pretty boring, but in the mid-card now, he’s gone from being a given winner to actually having good matches with the people he’s wrestling. I’ve praised Antonio Cesaro plenty in this column so it’s a given that he’s always great, and I’m hoping we’ll get to see him on the main card one day. The problem with this match is that Miz as the special referee didn’t really add anything to the story of the match. Typically a special referee match should carry more weight with it, but it didn’t do much as Miz more or less called it down the line. The feud between Cesaro and Miz seems really forced and doesn’t make any sense or provide any real reason as to why Miz is the guy we should be cheering over Cesaro, so frankly I don’t. Cesaro is pretty much better than Miz in every way, and I LOVED The Miz.
This is the beginning of the stupid nonsense from the Roulette that would bog down the entire show and make it nearly unwatchable. Vickie Guerrero was hosting the Roulette and had 3 wheels, one with the match stipulations, one with a bunch of superstars (that we never saw her actually spin, or if she did I consistently missed it each time), and the other with a random list of non-wrestling related activities whose place I’ll never understand on a wrestling show. Anyhow, The Ryback and The Primetime Players were picked for a Make Me Laugh challenge. At first, I thought this was great. Previously every time we’ve seen The Ryback talk it’s been weird at worst, and downright unintentionally poetic at best. We all know the PTP are funny, so their joke was a let down, but I was hoping big for The Ryback to actually tell a joke. Even a stupid 3rd grader one would have been great, but he just beat them up. I was totally ready to write off this segment as a wash, but then The Ryback Rybacked Matt Striker, who is a sniveling little shrew man who I can’t stand, so that redeemed it for me. Granted it’s another case of a wrestler beating up non-wrestling personnel, but Matt Striker is just the worst. WWE, in the future, have The Ryback tell us some reserved existential jokes about whether or not his hunger is spiritual, and then we can talk.
There’s a great story being told here with this rivalry. At the Rumble, having come from NXT and formed the Nexus, Wade Barrett targeted current NXT rookie Bo Dallas, but ended up getting eliminated by Bo Dallas himself. Tonight Wade got to choose the match himself, and picked Bo Dallas to get revenge. Their match was relatively short, and Bo Dallas pulled a 1-2-3 Kid and shocked everyone by quickly getting a pin on Barrett. I was completely expecting Barrett to destroy him and the fact that he didn’t was really refreshing. I’m pretty glad that the WWE is no longer afraid to bring in some new talent into the picture and I hope they keep on using more people from NXT. I could see it all leading to the New New Nexus stable I’ve been talking about for a while, but this time with actually New Nexus members. You could have Barrett form his own New New Nexus of former Nexus members, and then the NXT members would form their own New-New New Nexus, with all new New Nexus members who are new to the New-New New Nexus. It’d be something new.
John Cena. Man am I tired of writing about you. Your matches have no suspense, no drama, you cut terrible promos, you do the same 5 moves over and over each match, right down to that being nearly the only moves you did in this very match. It’s like you’re purposely trying to aggravate me in every way possible and it’s the worst thing I can imagine every week is seeing someone go up against you, because I know the next few minutes are immediately a foregone conclusion. Don’t believe me? One of my favorite bloggers Angry Jake over at Jakehateseverything.com took the time and effort to look through the back catalog of Cena’s matches in PPV’s to see when exactly he became the prototypical Invincible White Guy of WWE.
The guy had to go back four whole goddamned years, and in those four only FIVE GODDAMNED TIMES was Cena ever beaten cleanly. It says something about the man that he’s more or less refused to actually lose “for real” as many times as you can count on one hand in 4 whole years, and even more as to why his matches hold no real meaning for me. What’s the point of cheering a guy as an underdog or a guy who can overcome all odds when the odds are and have been disproportionately stacked in his favor for years on end? He’s like a cheap end game boss with 5 life bars, regenerating health and a million distracting minor bosses on the side to keep you from ever actually beating him. I know there are people out there who are Cena fans, like actual grown men, but for the life of me I still don’t understand why. What is it about him that is so appealing? I seriously don’t get it. His presence is perplexing to me in every way, and the worst thing is if I was a WWE writer I’d have no idea how to fix his character. I’d just make him a werewolf, and hope for the best.
After that pointless match we got to highlight #2 of the night, where we finally, FINALLY see The Shield absolutely wreck John Cena, then tear through Sheamus, and finally take down The Ryback, all in perfect succession. I really like The Shield, and it was great to see them finally take down the entire spectrum of the IWG in one fell swoop. I was getting tired of seeing The Shield beaten up by these guys who are way bigger than they are, and their serving of justice was much appreciated. Next time they should tie them all together and force them to listen to Great Khali singing, and make Cena promise to stop making stupid promos, Sheamus to stop being an awful racist, and The Ryback to… I dunno, get a personality. Or devolve back into Skip Sheffield. Regardless, Great Khali singing should only be used as a form of torture from now on, and certainly not in a pointless joke skit later in this show.
I’ll be honest, I went into this segment expecting to roll my eyes out of my head and puke for hours on end in disgust. At first it went that way, as Funkasaurus’ dance moves are tired and I don’t care about him anymore, like at all. Then it came to Tensai, who still believed it was a lingerie match. No I didn’t laugh at Tensai wearing lingerie, because it wasn’t funny, and in fact he was actually more clothed than normal wearing it so I have no idea why he was “covering up”. I laughed when he started dancing because for a single shining moment it actually looked like Tensai was having fun, and I’ll be damned if that isn’t infectious. On top of that, he shockingly HAD MOVES!
I guess they’re slowly trying to get Tensai over as a comedic relief wrestler, because his stint as a weird, semi-racist, uncharismatic fake japanese wrestler white guy was pretty horribly received by everyone. I’m not saying I want him shucking and jiving his way into the ring from now on, but if he can continue to actually just be entertaining to watch I’ll be happy.
This is the highlight of the night by far. I’ve often complained that in the WWE, good guys never act like good guys, and bad guys never act like bad guys, and for the most part that still holds true. Thankfully, with Alberto Del Rio and Big Show, we’ve finally got a bad guy who acts like the worst MFer there is, and a good guy who actually is pretty damn heroic and good. At the Rumble Del Rio did kinda/sorta cheat to win, by having Ricardo duct tape Big Show to the ropes so he couldn’t stand up for the Last Man Standing match, and I’ll be honest it was saddening to see him start to go that path of the typical WWE face, but it was a far cry from the typical unforgivable BS that Cena and Sheamus pull on the reg.
Well anyhow, Big Show comes out here tonight, immediately knocks out Del Rio, duct tapes him to the rope, and starts beating the everliving crap out of Ricardo in front of Del Rio while he looks on helplessly, unable to help his best friend get destroyed mercilessly. It was pure goddamned evil from Big Show, and was finally something an actual BAD GUY would do to somebody who didn’t deserve it at all, and now Alberto Del Rio is JUST in whatever retribution he enacts against Big Show, because tying someone up and beating the crap out of their friend in front of them is BAD, and deserves punishment. That’s what bad guys and heels are supposed to do, deserve the punishment they’ll get from good guys and faces, so that a sense of justice is served and vicariously lived out by the audience. It made me hate Big Show because what he did was wrong, and like Del Rio because I can’t wait to see him enact said justice. Thankfully, it’s finally on the correct sides of the moral spectrum as to who should be getting comeuppance in this feud, and that sort of thing is as refreshing as it is depressing.
What? What is this match? Showgirl Lumberjills? Why are the Lumberjills interrupting the match by jumping into the ring? Why does that end the match? Why can’t it just finish? Why is the Divas division basically 2 women now? Why don’t Kaitlyn and Tamina just finish the match anyway? Why was this even on my tv? Why didn’t I just fast forward it?
This promo is important for two reasons. The first and most obvious is Punk setting up the rematch at Elimination Chamber, which blugh. Whatever. The second though, is how much he’s getting booed despite saying probably the smartest, truest damn thing anyone’s ever said as a comeback against the audience, and tells them how in 20 years they’ll all be talking about how much of a genius he was. He’s 100% right, because anyone who’s watched his Best In The World dvd knows they’re already starting to do that for him, and that was before he became his current BITW Heel persona.
A lot has been said about The Rock not deserving the title, and how he’s a terrible character, and that him being the champion undermines the meaning of the title in the modern era by virtue that a retired, 10 years gone wrestler of an older era who can’t be bothered to actually show up and properly return is now “better” than the rest of the roster by being it’s champion. I’m not really sure I can say anything that hasn’t already been said, either by Punk himself or by any of the myriad other wrestling writers out there, so I’ll just say that I really hope Rock leaves again soon, and doesn’t come back. He’s not doing the WWE any favors, the WWE is just favoring him.
Well here goes another Sheamus match. Sheamus, unlike Cena, at least has a repertoire of moves, so his matches are unceasingly repetitive. I thought for a moment that perhaps the nature of it being a table match meant Sandow could outthink Sheamus and perhaps shove him through a table, or generally make it happen in a way that would be surprising. Unfortunately that’s not the case, and Sheamus simply destroyed him and slammed him through a table as was to be expected. I really hate this kind of wrestling match. Not table matches mind you, which I think are just fine, but I hate it when there’s no suspense as to who is going to win. I went in trying to trick myself thinking maybe Sandow could, but when Sheamus goes and does his thing it just puts be back into a lapsed state of boredom and I start wondering why I even watch this show. That’s not a good thing, and it shouldn’t happen. I don’t understand how the average fan can be happy with the same guys winning all of the time forever and ever, but I guess they are. I dunno, maybe just give me an actual reason to like Sheamus and I’ll see it? Either way let’s stop pretending like putting up mid-carders against main-card talent liker his is at all a contest.
This pointless joke skit should not be in this wrestling show. This is a wrestling show, not some weird segment on a WWE themed episode of The Surreal Life. Am I dating myself with that reference? Oh well. I was actually kind of looking forward to 3MB actually singing, but once again Great Khali ruins everything. Make this nonsense stop.
GUYS! Jericho is back! Again! I wonder how many times he’s gonna have a return. The dude is the Rolling Stones of wrestling. He’s had how many final comebacks now? I’m not exactly complaining because I love Jericho, but just be honest with us and just tell us he’s leaving for a few months to tour with his band instead of coming up with a slew of ridiculous reasons as to why he’s getting fired, or suspended, or leaving, or whatever. On top of that, you’ve got Vickie who was the one to sign him, which makes perfect sense since AJ more or less signed him out, and he’s the Batman to Ziggler’s Bane, as I’ve previously illustrated in this column. It also contributes towards my theory that they’re slowly trying to get the audience to hate Vickie less. I’m not sure if they’re trying to turn her face, but moves like this surely are things the audience likes, and are a step towards her being a good/fan friendly General Manager/Supervisor/Whatever. If you’ve ever been to a live WWE event, then you’ll know just how loudly she gets booed every time she shows up, and how much of an effort it’d take to make everyone suddenly not hate her. You wouldn’t believe how much they edit the sound levels for the Raw/Smackdown broadcast when she comes on, because when it’s live, I swear to you it’s impossible to even hear her.
Also why does Big E Langston’s singlet keep getting smaller? Eventually he’ll just be wearing that Borat bikini.
I totally forgot this match even happened despite it having four of my favorite wrestlers in it. I suppose that’s because it was about 4 minutes long, and was mostly just a stepping stone to further show us how Team Hell No are dysfunctional now after the Royal Rumble. But they’ve always been dysfunctional. So… Well it was nice to see Jericho wrestling again. For a minute.
Hey! Alright! Finally some payoff to this storyline! So as we all suspected all along, Paul Heyman really did pay off Brad Maddox and The Shield. Vince McMahon continues to ask Heyman about his honor and whatnot, and the entire time Heyman denies ever being in collusion with Maddox or The Shield at all. Then McMahon shows him the most damning hidden security tape in the world, showing Heyman clearly talking about paying off Maddox and The Shield, quite blatantly. Heyman then claiming that it still wasn’t him was goddamned hilarious. You gotta give the guy props for sticking to his lie. Brock Lesnar showing up was yet another surprise tonight, as I genuinely didn’t expect him to show up at all.
I’m probably one of the handful of wrestling fans who really doesn’t like Brock Lesnar at all. I don’t like his character, I don’t like the man, and I don’t really care about seeing him in the WWE ever again. However I do have to admit I did like him picking up Vince McMahon and F5ing him to death, because Vince is just the worst, and Paul Heyman’s screams of NOOO! NO MORE! NO MORE! STOP! NO MORE! STOP! while hovering over McMahon’s dead body are pretty hilarious. I was really sad that Heyman was about to be fired, so I have to thank Lesnar from keeping that from happening.
As the final shot of Raw came to a close on Vince McMahon’s lifeless body, I kept thinking about how things in the WWE right now seem like they’re in a strange reluctant transition period. We’re slowly getting more new talent, but we’ve got an old champion, and an old chairman. I’ve said here before that I think Triple H must be doing a better job in his executive position because he’s allegedly responsible for all the new wrestlers on the show. I can only hope that once Vince McMahon finally steps down, we’ll get to see at the very least, the wrestling in World Wrestling Entertainment become highlighted again. Shows like tonight, that are a host to a series of stupid gimmick matches, with moments of genuine shock and surprise scattered throughout are all the more frustrating, because I can’t just hate it entirely, but I can’t love it all the way either. Hopefully next week things will be better.
Since our regular Raw Review writer is sitting fourth row at tonight’s event, I will jealously and enviously be writing this review from home.
Just six days before the Royal Rumble Pay-Per-View, Raw had the task of selling this weekend’s show, something that over the past six months they have had a very difficult time doing on the Raw before a Pay-Per-View. With my expectations already sky-high for the Royal Rumble, my expectations were not much less for tonight’s lead in Raw. Since I usually have a knack for writing these reviews with a somewhat snarky undertone, I’m going to change that this time. Call it a new year, new me, whatever you want, I felt like this what a decent enough Raw so I’m going to get my bitching out-of-the-way first, and end with the pros of the show.
The first con of this episode was that the opening, which should have started off stronger, didn’t really start the show on the right note. The show opened with Paul Heyman and Vickie Guerrero recapping The Rock’s disrespectful actions towards both of them last week during his concert. Vickie went on to state that the Rock was banned from the building (which was supposed to shock us all) and we then get treated to backstage footage of Dwayne bargaining with police to let him in. This in turn set up the big question of, “how is he going to get into the arena by the end of the night?” We later of course found out that Dwayne would buy himself a ticket off of one of the officers to get in the building (which apparently also gives you permission to get in the ring as well). I really expected a better start to the show and end to that storyline, but then again, you get what TV-PG gives you.
*Note, you can see Grizzly Bomb’s own Adam Popovich with his FTF sign (a local wrestling reference), at 0:22 seconds in this video.
Maybe it was just me but I felt like there were more crap match-ups in this episode of Raw than usual. I mean come on, first they give us Big Show vs. Zack Ryder? Then they follow it up with Heath Slater vs. The Ryback. What was the purpose of this, was it to show just how “dominating,” they are going into the Royal Rumble?? As if we needed to see Heath Slater get beat up to know that The Ryback is a Rumble favorite. Anyways, as I already said, I don’t understand it, but none-the-less that’s what we were treated to tonight.
Other than the previously mentioned flaws to this show, I felt like it was a decent episode.
One of the most intriguing aspects of this episode of Raw was the resurgence of the Beat the Clock Challenge, to which the winner would get to choose his entry spot in the Royal Rumble match. I thought that the matches we were provided within this aspect of the show were actually pretty good. Then again, with the crap matches we were handed the rest of the show, let’s hope they at least treated us to decent matchups when there were Rumble implications on the line. At the end of the night we saw Dolph Ziggler win the challenge but only to be informed by Vickie that his only options for an entry spot were going to be #1 or #2. Once again, Vickie gets the last, extremely annoying laugh.
When Dwayne finally made it into the arena, he cut a typical Dwayne promo, where he forces in his latest twitter trending catch phrases, and classic crowd pump-up lines. Though there was nothing terribly special about this part of the segment, at the end we saw the power in the arena going out and The Shield charging the ring to decimate The Rock. I’m loving the fact that The Shield is being given such a push by the WWE, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the creative team has in-store for this trio. I unfortunately think that the audience is going to soon grow impatient with this storyline if progress isn’t made soon though. We keep seeing The Shield make these ring run-ins, yet no rhyme or reason has been given for their actions. I will just attribute this to the WWE writers not yet having an ending written. On a side note, I was shocked to not see John Cena come running out to his buddy Dwayne’s aid (kind of like Rocky did for him on Raw 1,000).
At the end of the show, John Cena came out to address the WWE Universe about the Royal Rumble. After a decently TV14 esque rant about what audience members do on Sundays. He then goes in to how this coming Sunday is different because the Royal Rumble will be taking place. After stating that he will go on to win the Rumble this Sunday, he is interrupted by Sheamus, who’s then interrupted by Prime Time Players, who’s then….well you get the picture. After a slew of wrestlers enter the ring (and by slew I mean about 30), they start duking it out. The show ends with superstars battling in the ring and Michael Cole giving the very cliché, “Is this what Sunday will look like?” line.
Undoubtedly, the last segment of the show needed to be stronger. The wishful thinking part of my brain immediately thought of how cool it would have been if during the fight, Brock Lesnar’s music would’ve hit and everyone in the ring would’ve just stopped. Then again, Raw endings have somewhat suffered lately and any big shocker like that will more than likely not be given away until the Pay-Per-View itself. Still, how good would that have been for selling that show?
I thought Raw this week was good, not great, but good. There were some strong matches and the Kane and Daniel Bryan anger management graduation was funny. However, as has been the case lately, a weak ending segment and some not so stellar matches held this episode to good instead of great.