Tonight’s Raw opens with as cold an opening as it could have, with Paul Heyman and CM Punk doing a classic style sit in, about the end of last weeks Raw. Heyman goes over the ridiculous call the Ref made, clearly ignoring Punk’s foot on the ropes last week, thusly giving the win to Cena. He goes on into detail about it for a while longer, and has the Ref in question appear before him, to admit his mistake, and give his resignation. After some stalling, the Ref comes into the ring, clearly nervous. He gives his explanation, saying he was nervous, and made a bad call. He apologizes, but refuses to resign. Punk and Heyman berate him, and insult AJ at the same time. AJ hears her name, and appears, skipping her way down. She says she’s not there to reverse any decisions, or fire the Ref, but is instead there to get them to leave, saying they’re holding “her” show hostage.
Punk starts to accuse AJ of having a grudge against him, citing her proposal to him months ago. She looks shaken, and he continues, citing a litany of incriminating evidence towards her bias against him, including but not limited to dressing like him, sending him hundreds of illicit texts (allegedly), and even implies that they had some sort of sexual relations, “behind closed doors”, and that his entire “best in the world” gimmick, comes from her praise of his sexual prowess. (allegedly).
He really lays into her. You could say.
AJ is noticeably bothered by all of this, and Paul Heyman takes the mic from Punk, and then gets down on one knee, asking her for her hand in marriage, saying they’ll be a new power couple to lead a new wave in the WWE. If that wasn’t insulting and creepy enough, he even says that he likes ’em young, which was funny, because Heyman really does seem like that kind of guy. AJ slaps him, of course, and leaves the ring.
A proposal by Paul Heyman is a fate worse than death. Apparently.
Backstage The Ref is seen regretting his bad call, and thanks AJ for standing up for him. She threatens to fire him if a bad call like that is ever made again. She continues to lay into him, all the while staring off into the distance, doing her whole crazy girl affectation thing again, which brings her to tears, strangely enough. I’m guessing the job is getting to her, and she’s finally starting to crack.
Holy crap, gayest screen cap ever. Good job Youtube.
Vickie Guerrerro then EXCUSE ME’s her way on stage, introducing Dolph Ziggler. Michael Cole briefly mentions that Kofi Kingston and Dolph had beef on Twitter, and this is why they’re wrestling tonight, rather than the hundreds of other times they’ve wrestled each other without provocation. These guys have wrestled so many times, that seeing them wrestle turns my brain off. Not even R-Truth/Little Jimmy throwing a cup of soda on Vickie could really grab my attention. I’ll tell you what did grab my attention though, was Kofi Kingston botching a drop kick in the worst way possible, missing Ziggler by a good solid foot. Kofi is one of those workers who just pulls down everything and everyone he works with. The dude is a black hole that just sucks up talent, and everyone in his vicinity becomes less talented when around him. After a bunch of back and forth moves between the two, Ziggler finally lands the Zig Zag, and wins. It was a good enough match, and in retrospect, was one of the better ones of the night, but I just can’t stand Kingston. He’d have to set himself on fire and do the SOS on a bucket full of rattlesnakes to get me interested in anything he does. The match seemed designed to push Kingston as a singles competitor again, but I’m sorry, the man isn’t worth it, and it just made Ziggler look weak.
I’ve been vocal with my love of Ziggler on this column, but man, the dude needs to hurry up. He’s spent FAR too long dicking around with his MITB contract, and wrestling schmoes who are beneath him. What happened to the Ziggler who was all I’M BETTER THAN THIS a few months go? That was a good Ziggler I want to see more of, not this ho-hum, bide-my-time loser. If I’m sound extra critical of him this week, it’s because I hate to see what I love, not live up to its potential, and in this case, it doesn’t seem to be the fault of WWE creative, but Ziggler himself. In Kayfabe terms, anyway. I’m sure in real life, he has to wait until the writers are satisfied with letting Sheamus lose the belt, but that won’t happen anytime soon because they just LOOOOVE big white racist strong guys.
After a recap of the whole Daniel Bryan/Kane Tag Team Championship reign/argument, they present the first in a series of segments, featuring Kane and Daniel Bryan still receiving help from Dr. Shelby.
Dr. Shelby and Daniel Bryan are in a restaurant, and Dr. Shelby is explaining they need to work on interacting in non-ewe environments. Bryan asks how, and Kane appears, dressed in a chef’s apron, ready to take their orders. He gets upset, but Dr. Shelby calms him, and asks Bryan to order. Bryan uses the order to insult Kane, but Dr. Shelby insists that Kane role-play the role of “Gerald”, the water. Kane/Gerald then describes an imaginary cook, who Kane found annoying, who took credit for Kane/Gerald’s work, and describes how he took the cook’s face, dunked it in the deep fryer, ripped out his beard, and put it inside of everyone’s food. The local diners look disgusted, and Dr. Shelby asks Kane/Gerald if he’s kidding, to which Kane/Gerald replies ambiguously
It was a funny segment, but I found myself distracted, because there’s a rumor going around that Being Human‘s Sam Huntington, is playing Dr. Shelby. Despite looking vaguely similar, and our own fellow WWE fan here at GB, Godzark, insists it’s him. I don’t believe it. Not only because Sam Huntington has said he isn’t him, multiple times on his own Twitter, but because even if it was him, I just don’t believe the WWE has that talented a make up team to make Dr. Shelby look so convincingly bald, not to mention his other differing facial features, and overall head size and shape. Judge for yourself:
And here’s Dr. Shelby:
Nope. Not the same guy.
Coming back from the break, we see The Primetime Players awaiting their match against Santino and Zack Ryder. Why Santino and Zack Ryder? I’m not sure. Zack Ryder getting airtime is good, because I like him, and I wish he’d improve his skill set. I can’t think of why he’s teamed up with Santino other than both are silly? Proud of their ignorance? I’m not sure. As for the actual match, I did enjoy Titus O’Neill just grabbing Santino’s dumb Cobra arm, slamming him in the ground to death, and beating him right then and there. The Cobra is stupid guys. Santino is stupid. I have no idea why people like him anymore. I don’t have much more to say about this one, because it was so short.
Hopefully this means The Primetime Players are getting pushed again, but if there’s anything watching TNA wrestling has taught me, is that WWE has forgotten how to make tag matches exciting. They’re doing an admirable job or rebuilding the division, and giving the belts to someone meaningful like Kane & Daniel Bryan is a step in the right direction, they just need to follow through and actually have these mid card tag matches be exciting, rather than route, and by the numbers. I hate having to say how much better Impact Wrestling’s Wrestling is each week than WWE”s, because I love the WWE, and want the best for it. Impact/TNA is entertaining as all get out, but my emotional connection, the company/brand I love, is with WWE. Call me a shill, or a loyalist, but it’s the truth. You can do better WWE, I know you can! Keep at it!
After a quick announcement that there will be a special guest arriving tonight, they cut to a commercial. After the break, we’re treated to the return of the one and only, Hardcore Legend himself, Mick Foley.
Foley comes out and shares some of his memories of CM Punk. He starts to criticize Punk and Heyman, speaking of the CM Punk that he knew, until he’s very quickly interrupted by Punk himself. Foley recants a story that actually sounds like a shoot memory, detailing how when Punk originally won his title, Foley sent him a text congratulating him, and how Punk thanked him in return, saying it meant a lot coming from Foley. Foley continues saying how since he was one who Punk respected enough to respond to, that Punk’s behavior, and alignment with Paul Heyman, disturbed him. He accuses Heyman of only positioning himself to benefit him, rather than the people he claims to represent, and that Foley himself was a Paul Heyman guy, until he learned to make his own decisions. Foley even makes a pretty solid point, asking why Punk needs Heyman, given his massive prowess on the mic, and his lack of need for Paul Heyman to speak on his behalf. It’s something I’d actually been thinking of as well. Why does Punk need Heyman to speak for him, when he’s such a great talker himself? My guess is it’s all part of building up more heat for him, because Heyman is a heat magnet from nearly any damn audience he confronts. The difference is, with Brock Lesnar, who can’t cut a promo for shit, it made sense for Heyman to do all the talking. For Punk, we just lose a great Punk promo, but I digress.
Punk really rolls around in the new Heel heat he’s getting, and insults the audience directly, and says Foley is wrong and doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Foley then reveals his intention, both Kayfabe and shoot, for being here tonight. Kayfabe, he’s here to encourage Punk to shake off the influence of Heyman, and make a name for himself at Hell In A Cell, citing his own famous HIAC experiences as career defining moments. In shoot terms, he’s there just to promote HIAC indirectly, and to really pull last grubby remnants of Face Punk down, and secure him as the #1 Heel in the company. Insulting Mick Foley is pretty much like committing Face suicide, and a surefire ticket to being hated by general audiences.
Punk then further insults the audience, and Foley’s hardcore legacy, implying that pandering to the audience, or doing any of the death-defying stunts Foley has done, are beneath him. The whole thing seems to really piss everyone off, leaving only me and a bunch of IWC smark ass Punk fans still loving him.Foley continues to goad Punk into going into the HIAC match with Cena, leaving on a pretty compelling promo, asking Punk if he’d rather be a legend, or a statistic. It was a pretty good promo, and still managed to highlight that Punk’s actions all have an internally consistent logic to them, while still showing Foley as the one goddamned person who can actually make a solid, consistent point about Punk, and not have it degenerate into “You’re a jerk, I don’t like you anymore!. Well not too much, anyway.
A few weeks ago The Miz said he’d go the distance with The Ryback, who is still undefeated. As far as overcoming his Goldbergian stigma, he’s not doing a good job. The Miz does a good job at trying to hang in there, but for every counter, or distraction Miz utilizes, The Ryback simply out muscles him at every turn. It’s good to see The Ryback managing to still looks strong, because Miz isn’t made to look weak by this match, just absolutely dominated, which is what they should have done with The Ryback from the beginning. Seeing The Ryback Ryback jobbers for months on end just made him look like he wasn’t getting any sort of challenge, but guys like Miz, who are stable, confident mid card talent, are exactly the kind of guy The Ryback should be destroying. They’re finally starting to get The Ryback right. Hopefully, he’ll learn a few more moves, because his repertoire is getting extremely repetitive.
We see Daniel Bryan and Kane reminiscing about Smackdown last week. They recall their mutual joy of destroying 4 entire tag teams at once, each with a steel chair in hand. They continue describing, until they start yelling out loud in nearly orgasmic pleasure at the memory of causing pain to others. Eventually, the camera pans over and we see Mae Young, taking an order, and even though it’s clichéd and predictable, I still chuckled when she said “I’ll have what they’re having”. Because the thought of an old woman wanting to share in their orgasmic, sadistic ecstasy, is hilarious. Not that stupid joke from that Billy Crystal movie. Who knew Mae Young had such an angry, dark side to her, just waiting to be unleashed?
Backstage, we see AJ talking to a bunch of Referees. She says some bullshit about the WWE not having instant replay, even though they totally do, and says it’s okay, because everyone makes mistakes. She’s approached by Alberto Del Rio, Otunga and Ricardo Rodriguez, who ask her why she’s asked them there. She tells them she wants them in a 6 man tag team match against Sheamus, Rey Mysterio, and Sin Cara. Which isn’t fair, because that’s more like a 5 man tag team match, but Ricardo is ever the positive one, proclaims them the Tres Amigos, and runs away joyfully.
Good lord. Tyson Kidd. Between Tyson Kidd being on Raw lately, and the Grizzly Bomb Drunk Review I did last week, I’ve been drinking a lot. For those confused, I take a shot every time I see Tyson Kidd on my television, and for the longest time, that shot just sat there, gathering dust and grime. Lately, I’ve had to take it one every other week, which is about 400% more than it was just a year ago.
As much as I like seeing Tyson Kidd jump around and do stuff, (Kofi, take note, this is what you want to be, and aren’t, in every way.), seeing Wade Barrett destroy people is fun too. I’m really digging his gimmick, and I get a real kick out of saying OY MOY NAYMS WAYEDD BEARETT IND MY BEAR-AGE ‘AS JUSS BEGONE, every time I see him. I just think that his finisher move, which I could have sworn was just a punch last week, was an elbow tonight. I suppose they’re trying to sell that he can hit hard from any angle, with his fists or elbows, which makes sense, but I’d prefer an affectation to sell it. Have him come out with gloves on, and remove one to ready the punch. Sort of like how The Rock took off his elbow pad for The People’s Elbow, but you know, less meaningless and superfluous.
Back from the break, Michael Cole is in the ring, describing the condition of Jerry Lawler, and some of the good news from Lawler’s Doctor. He then introduces Lawler, who gives this message, thanking his fans for all their support:
I thought it was great to see Jerry looking so good, and I love that he has a badass throne room with cardboard Elvis cutouts and knickknacks everywhere. His place totally looks like somewhere i’d totally dig hanging out. I’m very genuinely glad to see he’s doing well, and as much as I like him, I think it’s time he step down from wrestling and commentating alike, to ensure his future well being for his, and all of our sakes. Get well Jerry. Long live The King.
This match is an exercise in a bunch of wrestlers who just seem less than the sum of their parts. I’ve had my problems with Sin Cara and Mysterio in the past, and Otunga is a great backstage character, but a mediocre wrestler at best. Ricardo is obviously trained in the lucha style, but isn’t allowed to wrestle for real. Alberto Del Rio I think is great, but I’m really sick of seeing him lose to Sheamus. Aaaaand I’ve said plenty about Sheamus in this column, and I don’t think i’ll ever be able to top what I wrote about him last week, in regards to why I don’t like him, and why he’s bad for the company as a whole. It was particularly infuriating to hear JR refer to Sheamus as one of the best World Heavyweight Champions in history too. I enjoyed the minutes in this match where Alberto Del Rio got work pretty well with Rey Mysterio, as their style complement each other, but overall the match was forgettable. All the hoopla about Sheamus’ Brogue Kick is a bunch of bullshit too, because a bicycle kick to the head isn’t nearly as big a deal as they are trying to make it out to be. Add to that Sheamus viciously beating on Ricardo, and you’ve got a solid 10 minute segment that consists of me rolling my eyes out of my head.
Oh yeah, Sheamus sucks.
This has no connection with anything, I just really wanted to share it with all of you.
After that shitgasm, we come back to a refreshing palette cleanser, where we see Dr. Shelby with Kane and Daniel Bryan, urging them to try a step in each other’s shoes. He orders them both two meals, for Kane, a salad, and for Bryan, a plate of meatballs.
It was interesting, because #1, I didn’t know Kane loved meatballs, or that it was somehow representative of him, in a culinary sense. I understand the salad for Daniel Bryan, since that falls right into his whole vegan thing, but meatballs? Kane? Are meatballs from Hell? Is this some weird commentary on meatballs, and how they’re inherently bad for you? I’m not sure. After that, they both try the food in front of them. Kane burps uproariously, because apparently ingesting leafy greens puts his digestive system into overdrive. Bryan just says the meatballs weren’t as bad as he thought they were going to be, and promptly vomits into Dr. Shelby’s lap. I’m guessing his digestive system is just like Kane’s, but on the inverse spectrum. Watching Kane struggle with eating a tiny piece of lettuce was pretty awesome though.
As the age-old saying goes: You don’t win friends with salad.
Back to the ring, we see the Raw Active for tonight:
So yeah, I didn’t vote, because I didn’t like any of those. On twitter, I was in support of #Dragonfire, since that alludes to Bryan’s history as The American Dragon, and fire is Kane’s whole thing. Plus Dragonfire is way cooler than any of those three. After their introduction, the winner is chosen to be Team Hell No, which is ehhh.. It’s okay I guess. They’re then swiftly attacked by Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes. Sandow appears to be wearing a new shirt, meaning he finally has some merch available, which I want. Unfortunately I can’t find any pictures of it, but it appeared to be a diagram of the evolution of man, from primate to man, to Sandow himself, which is just awesome.
I’m totally gonna buy that shirt one day.
After the attack, Sandow and Rhodes reveal they’re a team themselves now, and proclaim themselves RHODES SCHOLARS, which shocked the hell out of me, because any avid Withleather.com reader, will know that their head writer, Brandon Stroud, came up with that name and promoted it heavily on twitter. Hell, I thought it was brilliant and retweeted it myself a few times. Seeing them actually take that name, was pretty awesome, and that moment felt more like the connection the WWE wants us all to have with Raw Active, more than all other Raw Active’s put together.
Ugh. Another tag team match. Man I know these used to be good, but holy hell is WWE doing a good job at making me hate them all forever. Soon I’ll forget they ever used to be good. I’d hate modern, younger WWE fans to grow up thinking any and all tag team matches are inherently boring. Man that’s a saddening thought… I need something to cheer me up.
Jesus christ girl, DRESS LIKE THIS AGAIN. Take that business suit shit off!
Ahem. Well, this was a pretty typical Divas match. It had them trading moves sloppily, until Eve lands a simple neck breaker, and the win. In fact, in the time it took me to write this entire paragraph, the match ended.
The only interesting thing was when Kaitlyn came out, after having been “attacked” at Night Of Champions, which we all assumed was Eve. Kaitlyn says she reviewed the footage, and couldn’t identify her attacker, but could see her hair was blond. Eve looks totes shocked for realsies, and her and Beth Phoenix start arguing. Eventually, Eve just attacks her without any real provocation, which must mean she really has turned face again, because that’s WWE logic for ya! Now we’re just left with this pseudo-murder/leg-attack mystery thing, where some blond person is responsible for Kaitlyn’s injury. Was it Kaitlyn? Somehow? Maybe it’s just the way they’ll explain Beth Phoenix leaving WWE, which I hear she is doing soon. Whatever. That’s the Divas division in a nutshell isn’t it?
WWE DIVAS: “Whatever.”
Holy shit. I didn’t think it could get worse than Tensai vs Randy Orton last week. What can I say? Two big fat guys running into each other, whose moves are the inverse of each other, does not for a good match make. I want to like Funkasaurus as much as I did when he debuted, but the dude doesn’t do anything other than dance for 20 minutes, squash people with his fatness, and then dance for another 15 minutes. Tensai is Tensai, and isn’t worth writing about anymore. Period. Do you even care who won? Really?
The only saving grace of this match was Big Show appearing, and knocking out Tensai’s stupid hissing ugly face, and following it with a knockout punch to Funkasaurus as well. He looked a bit reluctant to knock out Funkasaurus, and his status as a face or heel is as of yet indeterminate, but regardless, seeing him come out and kill both of them was a merciful sparing of a match I, and nobody else either, should care about. Let’s go Show, continue using that IRONCLAD CONTRACT to make the show better by just punching stupid people in the face to death. Next stop: Kofi Kingston. Then, Sheamus. Go for the WHC gold. Why not? Eff Sheamus.
Not even this would make him interesting.
Listen. I hate John Cena, the wrestler. Hate him. He’s boring, his promos suck, his wrestling ability is limited to say the least, and his character is grating beyond belief. In every way he’s only popular for political reasons within the WWE, because for some reason, kids like him. I don’t understand it, but I guess I can’t, because I’m not a kid anymore. All I know is that segments like this, where John starts off by reminding me by what a good person in real life he is, fills me with mixed emotions. I have enormous respect for John Cena The Man, because his charity work, and dedication towards causes supporting breast cancer research, are objectively a good thing for him to be doing, and that fills me with some actual, genuine happiness, because screw cancer. Eff cancer up it’s stupid ass.
But then he goes on his usual, I’M GONNA WIN AND NEVER GIVE UP, I’LL MAKE IT, IT’S ALL FOR YOU, THE FANS, WITHOUT YOU WE WOULDN’T blah blah blah shit he always does. The dude has made a career out of cutting the same promo endlessly. It was awful. It feels like every other month something happens, and he comes out and says how he may be going away for a while, and with his recent shoot elbow surgery, we’re once again meant to believe he will. But we all know he’ll just be back again next goddamned week. It’s what he does. Nobody has ever gotten fired, quit, taken leave, and then just showed up again next week as many times as he has. I don’t think there’s any other job in the world you could do that at. If I got fired from the bar I work at, I couldn’t just show up next weekend and expect to work there, but this isn’t the real world, it’s the WWE Universe, where up is down, good is bad, and heels are faces and faces are heels.
Punk takes some time to insult John Cena in his own special way, while Paul Heyman molests his WWE Championship belt. At one point a CM PUNK chant starts up, but Punk pretends it’s them booing him, and insults them directly. He’s really trying to get himself over as a heel hardcore. He then threatens Cena, and dares him to run away, by saying that he’ll turn his back on Cena, and if he turns around and sees Cena still there, he’ll beat him to death. So to speak.
So Punk foolishly turns his back on Cena, who then pulls out a lead pipe from his back pocket, and hits Punk in the gut with it. Because you know, yeah, that’s what a role model does. Punk then crawls away, while Cena makes terrible “pipe bomb” puns, and says something about real men wearing Pink,(even though Punk wore pink first), officially co-opting pink as the go to heel color, and making it mean less in that particular context.
Backstage, Punk walks by a group of people, one of whom is Mick Foley. He returns to speak to Foley, and attacks him, then walks away in pain, but turns to see something, and looks terrified at what’s before him. Which is….
A heavy breathing The Ryback. Why The Ryback was there? Who knows. Why he was breathing so heavy? Maybe he’s got asthma? I’m not sure. Why Punk acted like he saw goddamned Cthulhu when it was just The Ryback? Who knows! All I know, is that this must be the beginning of The Ryback as a giant, moving force to be reckoned with in the WWE, or the beginning of a main card push for him, with a potential feud involving CM Punk. It’s all up in the air at this point.
So this episode of Raw is exactly what I’d use to describe a mediocre, middle of the road Raw. Nothing too bad, nothing that great either. The highlights were the Daniel Bryan/Kane segments, as usual, but really, it was full of boring tag team matches, because the ghost of Teddy Long is obviously possessing AJ, and really only seemed to be there to convince people that yes, Punk is a heel. He’s really a heel now guys. For realsies. Stop cheering him? Please?