Tonight’s Raw opens pretty quickly with the finals of the tag team tournament. Almost immediately we see Rey Mysterio enter the arena, quickly followed by Sin Cara and Rhodes Scholars.
I know I’ve given Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio a lot of crap in the past, but matches like this is when they work the best. They both build off of each other, and use their high-flying moves to complement each other and create dynamism in the ring. Their style is more traditional as far tag team tactics go, with the usual Tag in/isolation/hot tag build. The one thing is, these guys CAN be good when they want to be, they’re just nowhere near as good as Rhodes Scholars. The best thing about Rhodes Scholars is they make tags often, and use their cooperation to keep either from losing their momentum. Tag Team matches are a quick and easy way to build excitement and tell compelling stories in the ring, and it seems like just until the last two months or so, that the WWE had all but forgotten this. Since I’m not the biggest fan of Sin Cara or Rey Mysterio, I was pretty delighted when Rhodes Scholars picked up the win, not only because they’re both talented, but because their enthusiasm is so darn infectious!
After the match, Kane and Daniel Bryan show up on the Titan-Tron to taunt Rhodes Scholars. Kane summons his fire pyrotechnics to explode from the corners of the ring, and we’re told that it’ll be Rhodes Scholars at Hell In A Cell for the Tag Team Championship. I’m pretty glad about this, because it’s a win-win for me. I have no problems with either team winning, and only skew towards Kane and Daniel Bryan because I love Daniel Bryan just that much. This is a tag team match I’m looking forward to, and that’s something I haven’t been able to say in the WWE for a long time.
The Miz steps in to give commentary, after apparently losing his Intercontinental Championship to Kofi Kingston at last week’s Main Event. This is probably the most disheartening news there ever could have been, as I can’t imagine the IC title meaning less on any other persons waist than Kofi’s. In the interest of not making this paragraph another diatribe on why Kofi Kingston is the worst, I’ll just say I look forward to him losing it soon. Regardless, Miz says he’ll take on all comers as part of his butt-hurt boasting that he does at ringside, and complains about Kofi being champion. It’s a shame because this is The Miz I like the least. I think he’s the worst when he’s whiney and complains a lot, and conversely is THE BEST when he is arrogant, and disproportionately confident for no reason. When he goes up and taunts everyone about how he’s the best and can beat anyone, he’s the best. That’s the part of his gimmick that works really well, along with his incredulity that anyone could disagree with, or beat him. It’s why I love his catchphrase being “Really?”, because it’s so simple and delivered with a sense of humor and cynicism behind it that makes it work. Let’s lose Whiny Miz and get back THE Miz. Kofi, you’ve done this to me personally haven’t you? Why must you do this to me?
Oh and Kofi beat Michael Mcgillicutty in this match. It was incredibly forgettable and almost not worth of notice. However, I do believe Mcgillicutty is one good gimmick away from becoming really popular, because he obviously has skill. Let’s see him do something important or interesting already, like Otunga.
Unfortunately this is the part of the show where John Cena comes out to give a promo because we have to be reminded he’s here, and never gives up, and the troops. Also cancer. A redeeming moment of his entrance was the very loud chorus of boo’s that came from the audience. The audience clearly feels like I did towards him, and it was pretty funny to see him try to get cheap heat by mentioning their local sports team winning the Superbowl. (The NY giants? I don’t know, if it’s a sport that doesn’t involve half-naked men grappling each other I’m not interested).
But Cena comes out and somehow tries to tell us that CM Punk has changed, his title reign of 330+ days (!!!) isn’t that big of a deal, and that he hasn’t brought the “change” he promised to bring. He goes on to say that The Ryback is the agent of change for some reason, and goes on to try to crap all over CM Punk in ways that really don’t make any logical sense at all. As if somehow CM Punk didn’t literally make change singlehandedly with one promo that got mainstream news coverage, introduced a new focus on wrestling over theatrics, made the WWE Championship mean something by holding onto it for a considerable title reign, as opposed to it being the revolving door championship it used to be. Eventually CM Punk comes out to counter everything Cena says by telling him it’s all a load of BS, and then promises us he’ll leave HIAC champion still.
It gets worse, because CM Punk makes the 100% accurate accusation that Cena cannot beat him, to which Cena maddeningly replies that he was not “allowed” to beat him. Despite the fact that Punk HAS beaten him multiple times. Or that Cena went to pin Punk with a german suplex but forgot to bridge, meaning both their shoulders were on the mat resulting in a draw, which means Punk retains the championship. Or the fact that Cena has been straight beaten cleanly by Punk multiple times in the past. No, somehow he tries to imply that he wasn’t “allowed” to beat him because The Ryback is the one fighting Punk at HIAC. Despite Cena being the one who said The Ryback should beat him. Or basically being the guy who controls Vince McMahon, who gulps in fear every time he sees Cena, and pressured him into letting The Ryback have the match. Cena is the worst kind of character, because he’s a bully who likes to pretend he somehow isn’t. He’s the most undeservedly righteously indignant character who tries to pretend like he has a moral code that is somehow more true than anyone else’s, simply because he’s supposed to be the good guy.
This is the worst thing about the WWE right now by far, and I’ve said it before and i’ll say it again. If you’re a heel in WWE, you can do perfectly logical, normal, conventionally acceptable things, but are lambasted and hated for it simply because you’re supposed to be bad. On the flip side, if you’re a face, and you are a morally reprehensible racist, bigot, or patronizing, pompous blowhard then nothing you can do is wrong, simply because you’re supposed to be the good guy. All of your transgressions are washed away in the guise of “humor”, or “He deserved it”. It’s TERRIBLE. It’s also the main reason I hate it when people call Cena “Super-Cena”, because Superman would NEVER act the way John Cena does. Superman has a goddamned moral code that is actually applicable to real life and is a real role model for people to aspire to be. Cena is one step away from being Ozymandias, believing that the ends justify the means. I’m not saying Cena would unleash a giant psychic squid on New York, killing millions to unite humanity, but he’d definitely break a “bad guys” legs if it meant a “good guy” would win the championship from him. Because that act is “justified”.
Then Cena tries to challenge Punk to a match right then and there, but Punk wisely takes Paul Heyman’s advice and backs away, because this was probably Cena’s ploy to injure Punk so he can’t win against The Ryback this Sunday. Blah blah. Punk walks away holding up his championship, which I hope he gets to keep for the rest of the year.
Antonio Cesaro is by far the most impressive wrestler in the WWE right now. The guy uppercuts dudes 10 feet up in the air, shoot deadliest 400 pound guys like Funkasaurus, beats people endlessly, stomps on stupid snake arm-socks, and speaks five languages. Aside from being a bit anti-American, I don’t see how you can’t be at least impressed with him, even if you don’t like him. His match here against Justin Gabriel I took to be a foregone conclusion because of this. So imagine my legitimate surprise when Justin Gabriel managed to pull out a pretty conclusive, clean victory over him at the end of the match. During the middle of the match I heard some idiots chanting “BORING”, which i’ll never understand. The day when you’re bored of competent, exciting, well paced wrestling in the middle of your wrestling show, is the day you’re officially a bad fan. I used to have little to no strong feelings about Justin Gabriel, but the guy has a great move-set, and is fun to watch. He’s like the anti-Kofi, because he does the same kind of offense, but better in every single way imaginable. Let him cut a promo or two after this, and I’d be totally happy with a push for him.
Backstage we see a limo pull up, and from it exists Vince McMahon and AJ. Earlier in the show we saw AJ’s tweet about an “emergency board of directors meeting” she was being made to attend, and was confused about. We know she was confused because she used #confused in the tweet. So when Vince McMahon starts speaking about how the meeting was about AJ’s tenure as GM, I already knew it was AJ retiring as GM. The surprise was hearing that it was forced because of “allegations of fraternizing” with members of the roster. Firstly, I won’t go into detail why that’s really dumb, because EVERY GM has “fraternized” with members of the roster and played favorites. Not to mention AJ has been romantically linked with at least 3 WWE Superstars in the past, and was MADE the GM just as she was about to MARRY one. Really, it makes the “Board of Directors” sound like completely out of touch jerks, but I digress. I said I wouldn’t go into detail and I won’t, suffice to say that the “reason” AJ has been forced to resign is utter bull.
Anyhow, she goes on to give a pretty tear jerking speech about her actual real life history, including her homelessness, journey to the WWE, and working from the bottom all the way to the top. It seemed a bit confusing, because with the emotion she put out here, it almost seemed like she was being forced to resign from the WWE in its entirety, not just as GM. I’m certainly hoping this isn’t the case, because I love AJ and love seeing her on my screen, even if she is confusingly heel or face, or both at the same time, or even a terrible GM. Then just as she was about to leave, Paul Heyman enters the ring.
Heyman starts speaking about AJ and finds a way to insult/compliment her at the same time in that perfect way he does, but also suggests himself as a candidate for the new General Manager of Raw. As sad as AJ leaving makes me, the thought of her being replaced by Heyman makes it WAY better in every way. Then after the brief high of the mere suggestion of Paul Heyman as GM, we’re subjected to the most confusing development in recent WWE history, and Vince introduces the “Managing Supervisor” of Raw. Surprisingly it turns out to be Vickie Guerrero. I’m pretty torn about this, because:
#1.), Vickie was actually a pretty great GM, and I’m bummed she, or Heyman, are not the GM.
#2.) What the hell does “Managing Supervisor” even mean? It’s the kind of title that’s so vague it sounds like something David Brent would make up to give Gareth some sense of entitled importance around The Office.
Ostensibly I’m guessing it’s just an executive position that was made up to give someone the power to keep making GM’s willy nilly. A GM of GM’s, so to speak. If that doesn’t sound like the most redundant and stupid development ever to you, then we should just never talk about wrestling ever.
Well this bit goes on, and Vickie refuses to make Heyman the GM, somehow kinda sorta declares herself the GM, (what???) and insults AJ to her face, prompting AJ to attack Vickie ruthlessly. Basically, this is the turning point for the WWE, where the entire clusterf**k that is WWE’s management becomes even more needlessly complicated, and the power ladder of who is in control is muddled infinitely. The whole thing reminds me of old DC continuity, and eventually we’re gonna need some writer to come along and retcon all of this managerial history in a way that makes some semblance of sense, because at this point I just give up.
Earlier Miz said he’d take on all comers, which I suppose is code for, “I’ll fight The Ryback” now, because this is the second time this exact same thing has happened. Anyhow, I like the idea of The Miz being confident enough to take on The Ryback, and the thought of him going in there thinking he can actually beat him entertains me. Unfortunately, this example of the match is not the case, as he’s still stuck in Whiny-Miz mode, and seems to be fighting The Ryback reluctantly, rather than last time where he did it confidently. It’s no shock then, when The Ryback Ryback’s The Miz, and we’re supposed to cheer for The Ryback’s infinite hunger. I’m guessing he’s just a really tiny Galactus, and is supposed to be out there eating worlds scaled to his size, but was defeated by a micro-sized Fantastic Four from another world, who tricked him into wrestling instead.
Backstage we see Kaitlyn, (looking goddamned smoking holy hell) confront Eve. Eve is on the phone talking trash about AJ, and Kaitlyn confronts Eve with evidence that Eve planned the attack on Kaitlyn from Night Of Champions. Eve tries to attack Kaitlyn, and their fight is interrupted by Layla. Eve then insults Layla, and all 3 of these gorgeous women start rolling around fighting each other, and well… Well I found this segment enjoyable. Anytime I get to see more of Kaitlyn is good for me. Ahem. AHEM.
After that we cut to Josh Matthews interviewing Sheamus about his Lumberjack match tonight against CM Punk. Sheamus says some things, and I just… I don’t want to write any more about how terrible Sheamus is, so I was glad this segment was short. Big Show comes out, says he’ll beat Sheamus at HIAC, and leaves. Thankfully we didn’t have any more time spent on Sheamus because he probably would have started kicking babies and saying racist things.
Holy crap. Remember last week when I said Daniel Bryan isn’t at his best against bigger guys? Matches like this are a perfect example of why he’s AMAZING in matches against guys more his size. This is by far the best actual wrestling match I’ve seen on Raw this month, possibly all YEAR. The two of these guys giving it their all at each other seemed like something you’d normally see reserved for a PPV.
The highlights were Dolph Ziggler taking giant bumps from Daniel Bryan, along with his ASTOUNDING top rope face buster.
It’s one of those matches that was so good, I can’t accurately describe it, so you’ll really just have to watch it. The whole thing was the highlight of tonight’s Raw, and really put a shine on the whole show. The audience could tell as well, because a resounding chant of “THIS IS AWESOME” started going around, and it’s never been more appropriate. I could say Dolph Ziggler won the match, but really, we did.
After the match Kane and Daniel Bryan begin to argue, with Kane hilariously still not understand that Daniel Bryan doesn’t like it when people say YES to him, and that Kane’s good intentions of trying to rally up support for Daniel Bryan indadvertedly led to Daniel Bryan getting distracted and losing. Then for some reason Matt Striker comes out, and says under Vickie’s new orders as Managing Supervisor, they now have to go through some weird tag team version of the Newlywed Game, or something. Vickie wants both Team Hell No and Rhodes Scholars to go through a “therapeutic gameshow”, with Matt Striker being the host. Why? I have no idea, and if this was with any tag team other than Daniel Bryan and Kane, this segment would be pure excruciating torture.
Hilariously, Rhodes Scholars come out, simply to say they refuse to participate in this foolishness, and leave. I’d like to imagine they got the script for this segment, both laughed at it, and told them writers to screw off, whereas Daniel Bryan and Kane took the idea and ran with it. Kane and Daniel Bryan then pull another very funny segment, in a moment that by all means should normally be a huge pile of dog vomit.
The best part was Daniel Bryan seemingly going off script, and calling Kane on his actual love of rainbows, and confirmed that Kane actually IS a Scorpio. After Rhodes Scholars leaves, Team Hell No takes the win by default, and Daniel Bryan starts to celebrate as if he just won the WWE Championship. Matt Striker then walks out of the ring, and smugly wishes that Team Hell No loses at HIAC, until Big Show arrives and throws him to the side violently. Smug-Jerk Matt Striker is NOT becoming, and immediately derives scorn from me for him, and not in a fun way. Let’s hope he’s dead now.
I’ve seen the two of these guys wrestle a lot in the past, and even sometimes together. I remember for a while they were Tag Team Champions, and seemed pretty dominant until Kane was injured by Mark Henry, and then returned a month or two later with 2 feet of hair, a fruit roll up mask, and a case of amnesia in regards to who his character had previously been. Until he became partners with Daniel Bryan, I was really ready to write him off as a played out character and wrestler, yet he’s proven himself to be adaptable and entertaining, using his newly found meta approach to who his character is and has been. This is a roundabout way of saying I really like Kane now more than ever. I also really like Big Show as well, and don’t really understand how he’s supposed to be a heel right now other than he hates Sheamus, but at this point that should be something any decent human being does.
As for their actual match, it was pretty entertaining. Right up until Rhodes Scholars showed up to distract Kane, I didn’t quite know who was going to win. But as we all know, if somebody comes out to distract you in a match, you’re mincemeat. Regardless of that caveat, Show KO/WMD punches Kane in the face, and wins the match. Rhodes Scholars follow it up by attacking Daniel Bryan, and securing themselves as the heels in the match between them and Team Hell No. I’m guessing Team Hell No are now firmly in tweener territory, because sometimes Daniel Bryan is a heel, despite being pretty universally loved by everyone. Time will tell, and I think this is a major step for Team Hell No becoming full-fledged faces.
Backstage, Santino tells AJ he thought she was a good GM, before she’s approached by John Cena. He says he’ll do anything for her, and she reveals that Vickie said AJ was “fraternizing” and had an affair with someone in the WWE. Which again is ridiculous for multiple reasons, so Cena claims he’ll go rustle up whoever it is that’s accused along with AJ, and get their side of the story to work everything out. This is when AJ reveals that the guy she was accused to having an affair with was John Cena himself. He looks incredulous (surprise, surprise), and says that the “business dinner” he had with her was for business. You know, the business dinner he asked her out on a few weeks ago, to In-N-Out Burger of all places? The business dinner that totally and definitively sounded like a romantic date? That one. First off, hahahah John Cena takes out girls to In-N-Out Burger? Dude, I’m no ladies man, but at the VERY LEAST taker her out to a movie or something first. Then I dunno, any other restaurant that isn’t fast food? Even The Olive Garden is classier than that.
Second, WHAT THE HELL JOHN CENA WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO TAKE MY WOMAN FROM ME, THAT IS MY GODDAMNED WIFE YOU SONOFAB***H I WILL MURDER YOU, WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? THIS IS THE FINAL STRAW CENA. I AM YOUR RECKONING. YOUR DEATH SHALL BE MY REBIRTH.
YOUR PUNISHMENT MUST BE MORE SEVERE.
Shortly after this, Cena confronts Vince McMahon about all of this, and Vince just avoids every question John has, and says there was incriminating evidence of some sort. Then says if’s basically AJ’s fault, saying if it wasn’t this it would be something else, which he isn’t necessarily wrong about. Then he goes on to say that Vickie is “some kind of interim thing, she’s the Managing Supervisor, I don’t even know what that means myself”. Which is probably the most frustrating thing possible he could say, because YOU’RE THE CHAIRMAN OF THE WWE VINCE, YOU SHOULD KNOW WHAT YOUR TALENT IS DOING, AND WHAT POSITIONS THEY HAVE! WHAT COMPANY IS RUN LIKE THIS?
Listen, I know it’s all part of the storyline, but let’s keep kayfabe for a moment and pretend that we’re supposed to believe “Managing Supervisor” actually means something. The Kayfabe WWE is by far the most ridiculously complex, uncoordinated, and nonsensical company in all of fiction. There’s no real sense of corporate hierarchy, and promotions and demotions are handed out like candy. In the real world, a company like this could never exist. It’d eat itself up from the ground up, because it has no foundation to which anyone or anything can rely on. I know it’s just a wrestling show, but little things like this add up to make the whole of the pie taste like crap. Some consistency in writing, is all I ask for. That’s it. So yes, not even Vince McMahon, Owner of the company, and ostensibly head of the Board of Directors (Until they’re somehow above him), knows what Managing Supervisor means. Ugh.
ADR has a feud with Randy Orton right now, because you know, they both needed a feud to have. It has no real reason to exist. Other than a desire for the #1 Contendership, which Alberto Del Rio rightfully had until Randy Orton showed up again and was just given that contendership by Booker T, because he’s Randy Orton. Booker T even actually said this nearly word for word, saying that Randy Orton will always be worthy of a #1 contendership, simply because he’s “always there”. I don’t write a column here about Smackdown, mostly because I want to save my sanity, but I can assure you if I had written up that particular Smackdown, it would have been a 6000 page essay on why Booker T is a terrible, unfair, biased, favoritist GM who does a terrible job just like every other GM in the world.
But yeah, back to the match. ADR beats Zach Ryder, by breaking his damn arm off using the cross arm breaker. I have nothing against Zach Ryder, and in fact find him quite likable, but the dude needs to find a way to learn some news moves or showcase some new ability in ring, because he’s gotten pretty boring to watch.
Backstage, John Cena argues with Vickie about AJ. They have a bizarre trade of insults, until Vickie Guerrero rightfully points out that it’s Cena’s fault AJ lost her job, by asking her out live on national television. Cena then walks away, not even taking the effort to counter Vickie’s point, because he’s just utterly defeated by her logic. I’m not that big of a fan of Vickie, but when she’s right, she’s right.
This match has been billed as the “Largest Lumberjack match in Raw history”, which is weird because I could have sworn they’ve had this many lumberjacks ringside in the past, but I could be confusing it with the many shows WWE has had in the past. I’ll take it at face value, because there certainly does seem to be quite a few lumberjacks. The main thing that struck me about this match was just how bad it was. For a match between two talented guys, it was incredibly slow, and not in a good rising build sort of way. As much as I hate Sheamus’ character, I’ll be the first to admit he’s a great wrestler, and CM Punk is CM Punk. It was doubly surprising, because minus the lumberjacks, they’ve done this match before on the first episode of Main Event, and it was really good! I don’t know if it was a case of mismatched timing, or the both of them not working together well, but the whole thing only barely was getting steam towards the end.
It was interrupted though, as right as Sheamus was about to Brogue Kick Punk, two of the lumberjacks interfered in the match, and got Brogue Kicked for it. Then Big Show jumps up and chokeslams Sheamus, letting Punk pick up the win. Of course, this ends up with The Ryback coming out, and power bombing CM Punk to death.
Lame finish aside, I did enjoy seeing The Ryback power bomb the hell out of CM Punk, but that’s mostly because I just like power bombs. Come this weekend, you bet I’ll be rooting for Punk to win, and I fully expect him to be the first person to kick out of The Ryback’s impressive Finishing Move As Ryback Marches Around The Ring. I’ll never call it “shellshocked” or “Shellshocker” or whatever they want me to call it. It’s The Impressive Finishing Move As Ryback Marches Around The Ring, forever. They wouldn’t have called it that 30 times in a row for 4 months straight if they wanted us to call it something else.
That wraps up Raw for this week, I’m now going to go mourn the potential loss of AJ from the show.