Tag Archives: Wrestling

An Essay on Superhero Comics & Wrestling

There are two distinct types of fandom I believe that share a kinship of sorts, in that they’re both inherently similar, attract the same sense of nostalgia and passion, and occasionally the same sort of ostracism from mainstream groups of non-fans. These two groups of fandom are mainstream Superhero comics fans and Professional Wrestling fans. While at first glance these two things couldn’t seem more disconcordant, there are actually many similarities at the base of their respective art forms.

Modern Superhero comics are an expression of idealism, and a way to communicate stories that can’t really be told in any other medium similarly. Whether these stories are meant to be experiences that are carried out vicariously through the character, or to establish a connection with a series of characters, the fact remains the same that these stories are and always have been about romanticized, idealized versions of characters that are larger than life. They’re bombastic, exaggerated, and are symbols more often than not of things we can aspire to be, or things to beware of and fear. These stories have been told for a long time, as myths of Gods and Demi-Gods, but are now represented as costumed, superpowered heroes who fight crime or the ills of society. They’re representatives of justice who are overcoming the odds they face against the villains, be they environmental, internal, or external. They’re here to right wrongs, teach lessons through example, or to serve as wish fulfillment for the reader.

Hogan Pic from America F-Yeah

The characters in wrestling have this exact same dynamic. They’re there to  tell stories that are larger than life. They communicate the basic system of justice, wish fulfillment, and a moral lesson imparted via the action that happens in ring, both meta-textual and literal through the exploration of these themes. Watching Batman beat up the bad guy is fun in a comic book, in the same way that watching Stone Cold Steve Austin put his stunner on a villain wrestler in the ring is. At that base level they’re both providing a sense of justice imparted against the villain in that story being told, be it either on the page, or in a ring.

By that same token they’re both exaggerated characters who couldn’t, shouldn’t, and don’t really exist in real life, instead legitimately existing only within the contextual realities of their worlds. In the same way that a Batman would immediately get arrested and thrown into an asylum (a theme that’s often been explored in Batman comics), Steve Austin would have been fired, arrested, and put into jail for the many attempts at assault and battery, home invasion, reckless endangerment and what have you. Yet another theme that’s actually happened multiple times in wrestling, is a character being “punished” for their in ring activity with real world consequences, despite all of it still being inherently part of the story.


Roland Barthes was a famous literature critic and philosopher who wrote an essay about wrestling called “The World Of Wrestling”, in his book Mythologies, an exposition on modern mythologies and the undercurrent themes behind them. In it he writes:

[box_light]“But what wrestling is above all meant to portray is a purely moral concept: that of justice. The idea of ‘paying’ is essential to wrestling, and the crowd’s ‘Give it to him’ means above all else ‘Make him pay.’ This is therefore, needless to say, an immanent justice. The baser the action of the ‘bastard,’ the more delighted the public is by the blow which he justly receives in return. If the villain – who is of course a coward – takes refuge behind the ropes, claiming unfairly to have a right to do so by a brazen mimicry, he is inexorably pursued there and caught, and the crowd is jubilant at seeing the rules broken for the sake of a deserved punishment. [. . .] Naturally, it is the pattern of Justice which matters here, much more than its content: wrestling is above all a quantitative sequence of compensations (an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth). This explains why sudden changes of circumstances have in the eyes of wrestling habitueés a sort of moral beauty; they enjoy them as they would enjoy an inspired episode in a novel…”

“The virtue of all-in wrestling is that it is the spectacle of excess. Here we find a grandiloquence which must have been that of ancient theatres. And in fact wrestling is an open-air spectacle, for what makes the circus or the arena what they are is not the sky (a romantic value suited rather to fashionable occasions), it is the drenching and vertical quality of the flood of light. Even hidden in the most squalid Parisian halls, wrestling partakes of the nature of the great solar spectacles, Greek drama and bullfights: in both, a light without shadow generates an emotion without reserve.”[/box_light]

This is the same for comics in turn. Here we are watching a spectacle on the page as the Justice League fights Darkseid on the open streets, or the Avengers take umbrage against the legions of Skrulls who have invaded (it’s been a while since I’ve read Marvel), and the entire time this spectacle is communicated on a never-ending regular basis. Wrestling is a constant stage of stories being told, involving a rotating cast of characters who over the course of years grow, develop, change, become bad or become good, and eventually “die” as their real life counterparts, the actual wrestler as opposed to the character wrestler, retire.


In comics, these characters never “die”, as any comics fan can attest to. Any “death” is merely a means to an end for further character development, and is almost always retconned given enough length on any timeline. The same is once again true for wrestling, as multiple characters have “died” either literally in the story, literally in life, or figuratively by leaving the company. In 1996 one of the most famous wrestlers for the then WWF was Razor Ramon, a character based highly off of Tony Montana from Brian De Palma’s Scarface, and a wrestler who captivated audiences with his signature look, mannerisms, speech and style. In real life, he ended up leaving the WWF, not taking the “Razor Ramon” character with him, and showed up on then rival wrestling promotion WCW as “Scott Hall”, his real name, but still the same character, albeit in plain clothes. In this manner his death was merely “retconned”, but in real life to another wrestling promotion. To make things even more similar to comics, WWF responded by simply casting another wrestler as the “new” Razor Ramon, who debuted to a major outpouring of fan hatred. Comics have done this countless times, most notably with Robin, Batman’s sidekick. It’s the only two mediums that have ever done this in this fashion, with any sense of regularity. It’s a dichotomy that exists with many examples, one being the death and resurrection of Superman, which is paralleled in turn by the multiple deaths and resurrection of famed wrestler, The Undertaker.


Furthermore, the serialized nature of both Superhero comics and professional wrestling, as I previously mentioned, is nearly identical. No two mediums share a similar amount of dissonance between the creator, writers, performer, and creative output. With comics, the story isn’t always told as we think it is by a man who writes and a man who draws, much like with wrestling the story isn’t only told by two men in tights who enter a ring to fight. There’s a committee or a gathering to create a consensus of how to best manage these characters, to tell stories that can be spun indefinitely, while still providing satisfying character arcs. Often this is the issue that both professional wrestling and comics run in to, what with the constant disconnect from what has been previously established, what is truly considered “canon”, and what is suddenly decided to be ignored and/or retconned out of history.

DC Comics has done this most famously and recently by entirely re-establishing a status quo, by erasing the entirety of their old history (except for the stuff that they didn’t) and starting over. While this approach hasn’t been directly emulated by professional wrestling yet, its parallel is similar to the creation of a new promotion based off of new interpretations of older wrestling characters that previously existed. In our modern state, this is TNA Wrestling, a promotion that competes weekly with WWE, yet mainly banks on the star appeal of its talent that became famous in other, more popular past promotions. It is in essence a “reboot” of all those wrestlers from other promotions, to start over with new characters, or a revamped version of their old characters, essentially creating a similar version of DC’s New 52, albeit unintentionally. It’s a correlation that some may find a stretch, but to look at the repackaging, and re-designing of a wrestling character, and to not compare it the repackaging and re-designing of a superhero character to me would be willfully ignoring that similarity.


There’s also the case that both comics and professional wrestling have distinct, and iconic “eras” or ages. In superhero comics we have the Golden, Silver, Bronze and Modern eras, all respectively dividing up distinct portrayals of these heroic characters in ways that reflected the zeitgeist. Wrestling has its own set of eras, divided up in into similar labels; Golden Era (which is pre-Hulk Hogan), The New Generation Era (where now legendary wrestlers like Undertaker, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels rose to prominence), and The Attitude Era, which is arguably the highpoint in professional wrestling’s history as the WWF became very popular with the advent of wrestlers like The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin portraying anti-heroes in their medium in a new and exciting way. This was followed by the “Ruthless Aggression” Era, which is an era that developed in the midst of a massive double down between the two main competing wrestling promotions at the time, WWF & WCW, with WCW merging into WWF. At the time this was unheard of, and the comic equivalent would be Marvel buying DC outright, and every single superhero from both companies were then poorly implemented into a series of comics that dovetailed creatively, despite immense potential. Lastly and currently there’s the PG Era of wrestling, where focus has shifted recently into a more family friendly orientation. These Eras in both mediums illustrate further how similar they are, and shows how their lasting serialized nature necessitates being broken up into Eras, in order to better keep track of how they both reflect society, attitudes, and current events at the time.

The problem is, people see the vast majority of it as dumb or meaningless, and write it off as time wasted. Recently this has started to change due to the popularity of Marvel’s recent movie paradigm, but unfortunately I don’t see this changing in a similar fashion for professional wrestling. However, the dichotomy still exists, as in both forms of entertainment we’re watching the same old stories, those mythological Gods and Demi-Gods fighting for a sense of justice, combating moral relativism, and showing us who we are through storytelling. They are the only two mediums that do it in the way they do, and if you’re a fan of one, you should give the other a try. I implore you.

Review: “WWE: Main Event” Did not Disappoint…

A lot of WWE fans have been wary of the attempt on a third show to complement the 1-2 punch of Raw/Smackdown. Previous attempts like NXT, Superstars, and even nu-ECW have led to them mostly being relegated to an online audience, rather than being canceled right out. When they announced a new show called Main Event was going to debut, a lot of fans were a bit apprehensive about its real potential, necessity, or for that matter longevity. Frankly, most expect it to end up with that same online only fate as all the other shows. Now while I’m not hedging my bets on this show having the staying power of Smackdown, I do think it’s here for a while, for a few main reasons.

The first is that it was promoted and executed in much the same way Smackdown was. That is to say, almost like a little mini-PPV. I remember when Smackdown debuted on the UPN network 12 years ago, and it felt like we were getting a free 2 hour PPV with how important and different it was from Raw at the time. Main Event gave me that same feeling, by the promotion of the big fight in it between CM Punk and Sheamus. The whole thing has a good hook, being a champion vs champion match and all, and with CM Punk and Sheamus’ in ring skill, it was hard to accurately call who’d win. As much as I hate Sheamus, I can’t deny he’s a great wrestler who should just never say anything ever.

The second main reason, is that it has a pretty self-sustaining, built-in purpose. At first I thought that “Main Event” was just a place holding, whatever-lets-just-name-it title, but the show does seem to be literally a Main Event worthy spectacle. With how crappy the main events from Raw are these days, a whole show dedicated to making sure there’s one solid, well done match in its runtime is refreshing. At an hour-long, it’s also a refreshing change of pace from the long 3 hours of Raw, and the sometimes just right, sometimes too long length of Smackdown. The actual show itself opened up with both Michael Cole and The Miz announcing themselves as commentators for the show, and introducing the show itself, which is fine and dandy for the debut episode. They followed it up with some actually pretty decent video packages for both CM Punk & Sheamus. Punk’s in particular was AMAZING, and told a good story in 3 minutes.

The actual match between Punk and Sheamus was a good 20 minutes long, and did a good job of making Sheamus look strong, while making Punk appear to be more of a Heel, without actually sacrificing any of his internal logic of character framework. Whoever is responsible for the direction that CM Punk’s character is going, is a genius and I have a strong feeling it’s Punk himself. The show ended with a brief tag team match between Santino & Zack Ryder, and Justin Gabriel & Tyson Kidd. Making that match the connection between it and Raw was smart as well, since this whole Tag Team Tournament is probably the best thing that’s happened to the Tag Team Division since I’ve been watching WWE.

I’m loving this whole tournament concept.

 The strength of this show is that it doesn’t NEED to follow on the heels of any of the Raw/Smackdown story lines, they can just announce a Main Event (see? That’s brilliant), and then just go with it. Next week’s show is between Big Show and Randy Orton for the #1 contender spot for the World Heavyweight Championship. Something like that immediately gives us great purpose for the show, as it could have great longevity as the Go-To show for settling feuds, contender spots, angled matches, special gimmick matches, and the list goes on. If they just cut out the promos and give us two 20 minute matches, I could see it doing the WWE a lot of good. Fans who have an issue with the WWE not having enough actual wrestling could tune into this, and enjoy seeing 2 solid and fairly long matches a week. Currently it seems like its gonna be one big longer match and another shorter one, but it could change.

Again, the most surprising thing by far was the quality of the video packages. Each was actually captivating and informative, rather than an unnecessary recap of previous events. It sets it apart from Raw & Smackdown pretty definitively. I’m looking forward to the show’s future, and hope it lasts. Hopefully the average fan will get past the fact that there’s “just one or two matches”, and dig it for what it is. It’s not a perfect show yet, but I could see it getting there. All in all, it was a well done hour-long show, that I’ll definitely be looking forward to in the future.

4/5 Grizzly’s

Monday Night Raw Recap & Review 8/6/12

Tonight’s show opens up with a new credits sequence, and new logo. Why they waited until the 1002nd episode of Raw to debut a new credits sequence, or logo, beats the hell out of me. I guess the guy who edits all of the promos went insane after the ridiculous amount of video packages he had to make for last weeks show. Well the new Raw GM AJ skips out, and announces right off the top of the show, a series of matches featuring Big Show vs Randy Orton, and Daniel Bryan vs John Cena. Before she says what her third match up will be, CM Punk interrupts her, and walks out to a kinda-sorta mixed applause from the crowd. The fans seemed to mostly be on CM Punk’s side, despite a few fans giving thumbs down here and there.

Punk begins to make a promo explaining his actions last week, with him yelling in AJ’s face, demanding respect. He does get “What-ed” by the audience while making his apology, and booed as well. He then starts to make the typical coward-heelish action of trying to butter up the GM and asking for the Triple Threat match between Punk/Cena/Show to be cancelled. AJ says her decisions stands, and Punk accuses her of getting revenge for his refusal of AJ’s marriage proposal a few weeks ago. He also points out how lame it would be if she started acting like yet another one of those Evil-GM’s for no reason, which falls in line with his “No bullshit, tell the truth” character. He’s riding a pretty thin line between actual truth teller, and tweener heel. Then John Cena comes out and says words about respect. I don’t know what the rest of what he said was past the word “respect”, because I passed out from boredom. The gist of it, was CM Punk and John Cena measuring each other’s dicks. Their insults and taunts were pretty grade-school.

” I beat you last year!” ” No you didn’t!” “Yes I did!” “Nuh uh!”

Awful. Punk, you’re better than that. Anyhow, Big Show enters because he legally has to. He doesn’t do anything, but he shows up, because that’s the law. AJ then says that CM Punk will be opening the first match of the night, with the WWE Universe picking his opponent. The selections were picked on twitter, and were: #PunkMiz, #PunkKane, and #PunkMysterio. I voted for #PunkMiz, because Kane is Kane, and I hate Rey Mysterio. Also Miz could use the push. I kinda like the idea of being able to push the stars we like, but a part of me thinks that the whole damn thing is rigged to begin with, either that or I really underestimate how much people inexplicably like Rey Mysterio. http://youtu.be/gfGuEvdoHyI So even though I dislike Rey Mysterio, I have to admit he’s a pretty good worker. Add to that that I’ve never really seen Punk have a bad match, and we had the makings of a decent match unfolding. Jerry Lawler made some idiotic comments about Punk needing to “earn respect”, which means either in the canon of WWE that ROH doesn’t exist in its entirety, or he’s just retarded and forgot all the events of last year, because if ANYBODY has “earned” respect it’s Punk. I literally cannot understand how you could think he hasn’t. Arguably you could say John Cena has “earned” it, except his whole Robo-Cena act bores me to tears, because it’s so repetitive.

This is every match of his. Every single one.

I gotta say the match made both of them look pretty good. Mysterio’s acrobatics work well on a guy with the build of Punk, because he’s not a Goliath style monster for him to overcome, and thusly his moves are more believable in their effectiveness. Punk though, did manage to pick up the win by pulling up his knees when Mysterio attempted a dive off the top rope, and landed the GTS. He then (shoot?) sold a mouth injury from Mysterio’s 619 finisher, and let out his patented BEST IN THE WORLD top rope yell.

Coming back from the break, we see an actually pretty badass comeback promo for Wade Barrett. The guy’s sporting a beard now, and seems to have a new “bare knuckle boxer” gimmick, that’s reminiscent of the UK’s Charles Bronson. The guy looks leagues tougher than he used to be, and the promo was effective at communicating that he’s not to be messed with. Good Job Video Package Editor Guy!

Back to the actual show, and Alberto Del Rio shows up backstage to talk with AJ. He butters her up, and tries to push for his whole “I don’t need to wrestle these plebes” thing. She says she had nothing planned for him, and is happy to hear it. But, he makes the mistake of saying that he thought she was going to do something “Crazy”, and she takes offense. She then puts him in a match, immediately. AJ seems to be a very wrestling oriented GM, who is eager to actually make wrestlers wrestle, and not have stupid goddamned tag team matches all the time. I knew she wouldn’t let me down. Oh AJ, shine on you cra- I mean uh… sexy diamond. Yeah. Then they had, “Hey guess what, TRIPLE H/BROCK LESNAR VIDEO PACKAGE. THE SAME ONE THEY SHOWED 5 TIMES LAST WEEK. SUMMERSLAM! IT’S HAPPENING! TRIPLE H! BROCK LESNAR! CARE ABOUT IT! CAAAAAAARRRE” promo, yet again. If I ever see Brock Lesnar or Triple H in person, I’m going to be the most annoying, autograph demanding, horrible fan I can possibly be to them. Annoy them as much as these promos have annoyed me.

ADR enters the match with a boot still loose, presumably from having “just gotten ready.” I’m guessing that ADR’s whole “I don’t wanna wrestle until Summerslam” thing, was actually a meta attempt to get pushed more by whoever actually books the matches. As a heel he says he doesn’t want to do something, and falling into a cliched reverse psychology trap, the booker gives ADR match after match, where he pummels people relentlessly until he snaps their arms in half with his cross armbar. Christian this time, is the victim, and Christians around being Christian, until ADR pulls off his loose boot, and conks Christian in the head with it when the Ref isn’t looking. Because an empty boot to the head is somehow more damaging than one with a foot in it.

After ADR wins (duh), Sheamus shows up on the Titan-Tron, and steals Alberto Del Rio’s car that we previously saw him park backstage. Sheamus is the worst face in the world. I think from now on, whenever Sheamus does something really shitty or stupid or boring, I’m just gonna write “SCREW SHEAMUS”, and save myself another repetitive paragraph wherein I am trying to find a new creative way to say just that.

Hey, how cool is scheduled wrestling matches actually happening? Like, you know, an actual card being announced and followed through, and not full of tons of filler? Even though Randy Orton annoys me, I’ll support the idea of actual wrestling being the focal point of my wrestling show, any damn day of the week. So I don’t like Randy Orton. He’s dumb, his tattoos are dumb, and his “viper” gimmick is stupid and dumb. He’s a big dumb dummy who is so dumb he reverts me back to an age where I can only make infantile insults about what a doody-head he is. So I enjoyed seeing him get clobbered by Big Show, and was really fearing his typical mid-match momentum shift, where he body slams the guy from an irish whip, and then hulks out or whatever that weird ground pounding thing he does is, and RKO’s his opponent. Well, it was happening, and I was about to begin audibly groaning, when Show countered it into a choke slam. Then Orton kicked out of the choke slam, and the match continued. They then kept exchanging blows outside of the ring, resulting in a stalemate between the two of them, when the match came to a double count-out. Which I have to admit, was legitimately surprising, and somehow not a disappointing end to that match. They built up Orton without making Show look bad, and Show gets to still seem strong. Of course, after the match Show tries to hit the WMD on Orton, who finally lands the RKO on him, looking pretty ridiculous while doing so.

It seems like The Ryback shows up sometimes on Raw, and occasionally he’ll have a burst blood vessel in his left eye. Or a very bad case of pink eye. Or he’s having some kind of weird half-stoner stroke, and every time he smokes pot only half of his body gets high, thus resulting in his one bloodshot eye. I’m guessing they want us to think that he’s a hardcore fighter, and someone is always smashing him in the face hard enough to do that to him, but I’m inclined to think he’s really prone to quick fits of anger for no reason. What’s that? Big Bang Theory is eclipsing Community in the ratings again? THE RYBACK MUST RYBACK TV WITH HIS HEAD. THE RYBACK HUNGRY FOR GOOD THURSDAY NIGHT MUST SEE TV. FEED ME MORE DANNY GLOVER.

Yeah, that can’t feel good.

As for the match, The Ryback Ryback’s Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks again, in a match identical to his previous matches with them. While I like The Ryback, he’s starting to reach Funkasaurus levels of repetition. Blegh. Feed ME more, The Ryback. Feed me an original match.

Alright! This is how it should be! One wrestling match, immediately followed by another wrestling match! Awesome! Either this means they’re actually putting more wrestling into their 3 hour show, or the next hour after the other two previously announced matches will just be endless promos and skits that will make me eat my words about the WWE actually taking steps towards improving their product. I was about to start writing about how these guys were imprving in ring, because their match was building up in a nice fashion, until the Primetime Players, AGAIN do the whole “we had enough of this” thing, and backwards walk out of the ring. Then Kofi Kingston’s horrible music comes on, and the mere presence of the Tag Team Champions stuns the Primetime Players long enough for Primo and Epico to pull them forcefully back into the ring, where they pulled off a clean win. Yay. After a video package reminder of who Damien Sandow is for the unwashed masses, we see Josh Matthews interview him about his actions last week, where he attacked the Funkasaurus. Damien then goes on to say, more or less, that he hates dancing, and considers it foolishness that contributes to the delinquency of society. How goddamned hilarious is that? Damien Sandow hates dancing. Dancing! I can imagine him seeing the trailer for Step Up 5: Back 2 Tha Streets: Tha Reckoning 4 Tha Streets That Step Up AGAIN, and sneering derisively at it. I’d be right there with him, and then we’d play a game of chess together while sipping fine whiskey. Amazing.

Finally, FINALLY somebody comes out, and just beats the shit out of Funkasaurus during his long, ostentatious, unnecessary dance intro. He just comes out, tackles him, and just laus into his leg pretty horrifically. Then he just stands over his writhing body, and yells I TOLD YOU. YOU DID THIS TO YOURSELF, over and over. Then, when off camera, presumably cartwheels his way out of there. This is why Damien Sandow is awesome.

He is the best heel.

Backstage, AJ is sitting with Daniel Bryan. She tells him she thinks he has anger issues, which may or may not be true. He does mention how it’s probably because she left him at the altar, but stipulates that if he beats John Cena tonight, she should turn the Cena/Show/Punk match, into a 4 way match. She then tells him no, and that he already has a match at Summerslam, against Kane. Bryan then stands up and starts NOing at AJ, while she YES’s back, until they do it simultaneously, which somehow makes AJ defeat him verbally. He stomps off in a huff, and I’m left feeling really bummed we won’t get another chance for Daniel Bryan to become WWE champion.

There hasn’t been a Diva’s match on Raw in a long time, and while I love women’s wrestling, what the WWE Divas do barely counts as wrestling. But they’re both so goddamn gorgeous it’s still entertaining to watch. The thing about Kelly Kelly, is she’s just a relatively athletic model, and not really a wrestler, so all of her moves are really shout-ey and simplistic. Eve, while not a great wrestler either, is a slight step up against Kelly Kelly in terms of wrestling talent. That being said, they managed to give a fairly long match, for Divas anyway. In fact, I found myself surprised that it was as long as it was, and managed to make them both look good, in more ways than one. Mostly because Eve was dressed like this: Holy crap. And Kelly Kelly was in her typical barely not lingerie garb as well.

Oh… oh my.

Ahem. So yeah. Diva matches. Of notable length relative to past Divas matches. In skimpy clothes. Let’s have them actually improve their wrestling ability, and hot damn. I’m ready. Don’t let me down WWE. Don’t let me down. Who am I kidding? They’re totally gonna let me down.

Look folks! HBK is back! He was back as recently as two weeks ago, but he’s BACK! Again! He can’t really do his entrance that well anymore, and his hips are clearly hurting him, and his voice sounds like he’s been gargling asphalt every morning for the last 10 years, but HE’S BACK! Cheer for his ineptitude!

I know, I know, HBK is awesome, but man, it’s like watching your beloved old uncle slowly wander into senility, and he doesn’t even know it’s happening, so he keeps walking around talking about how much the WWE Universe appreciates him while making comments about he can’t walk that well or do his entrance anymore. Ok, I might have gotten metaphors and commentary mixed up there, but my point stands. I think. Also I wish HBK was my uncle. So HBK continues his promo, talking about Triple H and then mentions Brock Lesnar, so of course, Brock Lesnar’s music starts up. Before they even finished thie promo, I understood the purpose of it, and how it’s been done before. For a few years in a row, they had HBK come out to basically taunt Triple H/Undertaker into fighting each other, because for some reason, HBK is Triple H’s big brother/rival/frenemy/cypher, who constantly must make all of Triple H’s affairs his. He’s like a needy friend who’s also really nosy and butts into business that isn’t his. I had a few friends like HBK Then I challenged them to a Hell In A Cell match, and tombstoned them horribly. I believe all social problems can be solved with a modified pile driver or a quick suplex. Awkward date? Elbow drop the waiter! Weird party where you don’t know anyone but have to attend? Choke slam the host through the punch bowl! Can’t get an erection during sexy time? Stone Cold Stunner your cock, and spin into a repeating ouroboros of infinite pain and humiliation! I’m really torn, because I shoot hate Brock Lesnar and shoot love Paul Heyman, so their pairing makes me all conflicted inside. I like the idea of Paul Heyman promoting his “client” as an actual wrestler hellbent on wrestling. I also really like him legitimately referring to Brock Lesnar as “The Baddest Dude” in WWE today.

Pictured: Brock Lesnar.

But this promo was more or less just more boring fluff for that Triple H match, where HBK pulls out the “YOU MENTIONED HIS KIDS! THAT’S AWWWWFULLLL” thing, because that somehow makes the match more important or something. Blah blah blah. More wrestling please. Or alternatively, have Brock Lesnar actually quit WWE just like he has every other damn thing in his life. That’s right Brock, COME AT ME BRO.*

Then of course, Triple H comes out, and it gets all tense and shit, and points really hard at both of them, while vaguely threatening HBK. Lamesauce. After that we get to watch Sheamus’s Tout (ugh) of him with Alberto Del Rio’s car. Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler argue over whether or not it’s grand theft auto (it is), and then we get another match.

This was actually his real argument.

Chris Jericho comes out to join Cole and Lawler ringside to give commentary on Dolph Ziggler’s match. He then explains why he’s been wearing Dolph Ziggler’s pink shirt, by saying he found it in the trash, which is somehow meant as an insult, but really it makes him sound like a dirty trash picker. As for the actual match, Dolph Ziggler was dominant against Alex Riley. Big surprise. The only thing that made the match was when Dolph Ziggler started showing off doing Jericho’s classic cocky pin, and Jericho stands up to Tout Dolph right then and there, and of course, this distracts Dolph long enough for A-Ry to get the roll up pin. Normally I hate the “distraction/roll up” ending to matches, but they haven’t done it in a while, and the us of Tout (ughh) made it novel. Another Tout from Sheamus is shown. Seriously? What we’re getting now is footage of footage being touted? I like the amount of wrestling i’m getting tonight, but little dumb moments like this add up to make the overall pie shittier in flavor. So to speak.

So I guess Kane and Miz were gonna have a match tonight no matter what, and if the people had voted like I did for #PunkMiz, we’d be seeing Rey Mysterio vs Kane right now, or some combination of the three choices we were given. Either way, the big surprise was seeing Miz hold his own against Kane. It’s fascinating how a big-boy haircut and a new attitude can improve a wrestler who people previously took only as a joke. I give Kane a shit pretty passively, but sometimes he’s able to tap into a talent reserve and make a match really work. Miz and him traded a lot of spots until Kane got the upper hand, and ended the match with a choke slam, but the effort put out by Miz was noticeable, and the match did a good job of making Kane still seem strong, while not making Miz look like he’s being squashed or jobbed into hell. Coming back from the break, we see Sheamus deliver ADR’s Ferrarri, absolutely trashed and covered in dirt, making him an impolite bastard, as well as a felon. Screw Sheamus.

I’m loving Daniel Bryan’s new “insane” character, who is obsessed with nobody but him saying “Yes”, and now is fixated on saying NO all the time at people. Plus he keeps walking around clutching his head like the brain-grubs are hatching, and they crave the YES YES YESing from the audience to grow and thrive. The match opens up with a rousing clamber of anti/pro Cena chants, that Daniel Bryan detests, and John Cena seems confused by. Throughout the whole match in fact, they seemed to bewilder him, as if he’d never heard them before. Daniel Bryan at one point does an awesome face to face with another fan, where he yells NO right in their face, while they YES him right back. I’d mark the eff out if that happened to me. Anyhow, Daniel Bryan get’s the upper hand during the commercial break, and the inevitable Robo-Cena countdown clock begins. Eventually he hits the 5 moves of doom, but just as Cena goes for the Attitude Adjustment, Daniel Bryan locks him into a guillotine headlock. After a minute in the headlock, Bryan gets the advantage again, and builds up his newfound insanity powers to land a flying headbutt on Cena, but Cena still manages to kick out. After that, Daniel Bryan starts his signature kicking thing, which Cena counters in the STF, which Bryan re-counters into the YES-Lock, and for brief shining moment, I thought we were about to see Daniel Bryan beat Robo-Cena, but of course, he countered it again into the AA somehow. After he pins him, CM Punk’s music starts, and Punk enters the ring. He then raises his belt, as he has done to Cena so many times before. Suddenly, Cena throws CM Punk out-of-the-way, and Big Show enters to fight Cena. Cena raises Show into the AA, but in a repeat from last week, he knocks Show off Cena’s shoulders. He then grabs a headset and berates Jerry Lawler again, pointing out that he’s been letting people disrespect him, and that he won’t any longer. That he won’t let people say he’s “turned his back” on the WWE Universe, and even makes a comment referencing how Raw ends the same way it did the last two times. He then goes int he ring to take out Big Show, who catches Punk’s kick, and WMD’s him hard. Show follows it up with a WMD to Cena as well, and ends the show by grabbing the WWE title triumphantly, standing tall over Punk and Cena.

Woo Woo Woo. You know it.

So wow, tonight’s Raw seemed almost like an apology for last weeks. What with the entire IWC reacting pretty goddamned negatively to the entire hour of stupid Lesnar/Triple H promos, they jam-packed this Raw with wrestling, with nearly 10 whole matches, almost all of good length, and none of the skits or promos were overly long, and the annoying ones were kept thankfully short. I’m hoping this is a portrait of things to come, because it’s a definite step in the right direction for the WWE. Except for Sheamus. Screw Sheamus.

*actually please don’t come at me, you’d friggin’ kill me.

WWE Monday Night Raw Recap & Review 6/18/12

Tonights Raw opens up on the heels of yesterdays PPV, No Way Out, showing the results of the main event. The results, surprisingly being the “firing” of John Laurinaitis. This was a shock to me, because I thought for sure the conditions of him being fired indicated that Show was to take the win, but of course, I forgot the golden rule of WWE, if it has Cena in it, he is going to win. (unless The Rock is there.) They also, strangely open by showing that Cyndi Lauper, of all people, is going to be “returning” to Raw tonight,  which is confusing to me for a whole bunch of reasons, but mostly because she’s goddamned Cyndi Lauper. What the hell? Have I been transported to 1983?

Anyhow, after that, Mick Foley enters the stage, wearing a suit, which was unsettling to see, since plaid and stretch pants have always been his thing, and as much as I’d like to say the guy cleans up well… Not so much.  He at first comes out, speaking about his appearance being initially related to the 1000th episode of Raw milestone, but then says that he will be taking an interim position as General Manager, since the Board of Directors are looking for new General Managers, and are temporarily having former ones in place as scabs, so to speak.

I guess that finally resolves the question of the difference between Commissioner and General Manager in the WWE’s history, since Foley used to be The Commissioner of Raw, which I guess was the same job as General Manager all along, even though it didn’t used to be, and but now is. Regardless, they do the same job, so I’ll give them a hand for trying to adhere to continuity, as thin as it may be. Foley then announces a tag team between Kane and Daniel Bryan, and Sheamus and CM Punk. He then ushers in John Laurinaitis, who is here to give his farewell address. Laurinaitis comes out, again in an arm sling and neck brace from yet another Attitude Adjustment from Cena. Laurinaitis hobbles his way into the ring, and has a few words. I am a huge fan of John Laurinaitis, and by now I have his entire self introduction/catchphrase memorized by heart.

“My name is Mr. John Laurinaitis, and I am the Executive Vice President of Talent Relations, and General Manager of Monday Night Raw, and Smackdown.”

I’m gonna miss hearing those words, but I expect soon, in the coming weeks, he’ll return in some fashion. A character that good you don’t get rid of entirely, but I can respect them taking him off the shelf while still in his prime. After some crowd play between Laurinaitis and Foley, Laurinaitis ends up insulting and belittling the crowd themselves, and then goes on to say how last night, his final action as GM was to create the main event of tonights Raw. Of course, it’s a handicap match, with John Cena VS Big Show, David Otunga, and Laurinaitis himself.

Sheamus shows up just as Laurinaitis starts to leave, and is quickly followed by CM Punk. They both snicker as Laurinaitis leaves, and get ready for their tag team match. Kane and Daniel Bryan enter, and the match begins.

The match itself was good. Sheamus is slowly growing on me, and he and CM Punk’s wrestling styles complement eachother well in the ring. The same cannot be said for Daniel Bryan and Kane, because Kane’s slow, lumbering strong man act looks especially bad compared to Sheamus’ comparable strength, along with his relative speed for a man his size. I guess it’s just taking me a long time to recover from the 18 second squash he put on Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania 28. In the long run though, Daniel Bryan has absolutely prospered the most from it, and has come out the best since that whole debacle. If this match is setting up the seeds of a future feud between Daniel Bryan and Sheamus, I’m all for it, as long as it comes after the Punk/Bryan feud, because that one needs to continue.

At one point, Michael Cole mentions that CM Punks current championship reign, after last night’s defense, is rounding up to 211 days, making it the 4th longest reign in 15 years. The other three being split between John Cena and JBL. All in all this speaks a lot of how often titles switch hands, and how much being a champion actually means in the WWE, if less than 2/3 of a year is considered 4th longest. At least in relative WWE terms it’s quite a boost to Punk’s prestige as champion, and creates more tension with every title defense he now has. It’ll  definitely be an entertaining match whenever he does eventually lose the title. The whole crowd was clearly a big fan of Daniel Bryan, with very audible “Yes!” chants the whole match, and shocker of shockers AJ shows up. But she shows up dressed as Kane, and skips around the ring only. Which, was weird to say the least. Kane then follows her, because he’s Kane, and is easily distracted, even if that is a legitimately distracting thing to follow. Punk then puts the GTS on Bryan, and Sheamus Brogue Kicks him, and they obviously, get the win.

Backstage, we see Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger arguing about who is the best between them, (Ziggler is). They’re interrupted by Vickie Guerrero, who says it’s time for her to make a decision, and pick one of them for her to manage solely. She decides the best way is for them to have a match, to settle it once and for all. This is a bummer, because I liked Swagger and Ziggler as a team, (I called them Dack Swaggler), but if it’s what will get us to Ziggler finally getting some major singles recognition, I’m all for it. I can’t say enough good things about Ziggler, the man is seriously one of the best talents the WWE has, and hopefully this is the beginning of a push for him.

We cut to Laurinaitis and Otunga in the dressing room, chumming it up, and generally seeming like two really nice, cool guys you’d want to hang out with, until Big Show enters the room. Show walks in, seeming grumpy, and asks them what’s funny. Laurinaitis explains that what’s funny, is how Cena will be defeated by their powers combined tonight, and that the people will never forget John Laurinaitis’ name. Big Show replies by saying he doesn’t think anything is funny. Ever. At all. Which is coincidentally, kind of funny.

I keep imagining Big Show attending stand up comedy shows, and sitting stone faced during the entire set. Or watching old reruns of I Love Lucy, and getting angry about Lucy’s ineptitude, or maybe even snapping his copy of Young Frankenstein in half, because it wasn’t scary enough. If they were gonna take Show’s character a direction other than “Giant Unstoppable Monster”, then “Awkwardly Humorless Big Guy” is totally suitable.

And thus, Dack Swaggler comes to an end. The two put on a bunch of different moves, all followed with their own in ring taunts and ways to show off. The match actually managed to create a good sense of rivalry between the two of them, and created some early tension by having Ziggler hurt his knee, giving Swagger something to focus on for the match, so we don’t all assume Ziggler has this one wrapped up already. Swagger actually spends a lot of time really tearing into Zigglers leg, even to the point where the crowd began cheering for Ziggler. It’d seem this is a fairly Heel-centric crowd, and things were looking grim until Ziggler turned things around by finally landing a Zig Zag on Swagger, and picks up the three count. Vickie Guerrerro thanks Ziggler with a congratulatory hug, and a very suspiciously long, on the lips kiss, which made the crowd audibly groan, either in surprise or disgust, or both. I found it interesting, because it backs up my theory that she’d been “working” with the both of them “in private”, because she’s a “cougar”. Get it? Working? Privates? Sex. She’s been having sex with them.

Hopefully not at the same time. Though she probably did.

After that, we get a video package from No Way Out, showing Triple H’s speech, about the status of Brock Lesnar, Paul Heyman and himself. He effectively removes Heyman from the table, and proposes a match between Lesnar and himself at Summerslam. We cut back to Raw, and see a limousine pulling up, potentially carrying Lesnar or Heyman, who will respond to Triple H’s proposition.

After the break, there’s another video package commemorating the 1000 Episodes of Raw thing, and we get a clip from 1998. In it, Vince McMahon is currently in the hospital after suffering injures from Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Mankind shows up with Mr. Socko to make Vince feel better. He’s unsuccessful at doing so, and leaves. Vince calls for the doctor, who is nobody else but Stone Cold himself, who goes on to pummel Mr. McMahon over and over in his hospital bed, finally bashing a steel bedpan on his skull. I actually remember watching this episode of Raw way back when, and even then I wondered how the hell Stone Cold managed to sneak into a hospital, steal a pair of scrubs, and then sneak into Mr. McMahon’s hospital room, all without being detected as the worlds biggest wrestling star at the time. Regardless, it’s certainly a better Raw moment than f*cking Seth Green showing up for some horrible reason.

Back to the actual show, Paul Heyman enters to big crowd applause, which is refreshing and good to hear. Long Island, NY must be a smark town, because ECW chants were rampant, and so far they’ve all been chanting the internet wrestling communities’ favorites, instead of the usual faces that most crowds cheer. It makes me wish I was there in person. Anyhow, Heyman comes out to speak on behalf of BRROOOOCCKKK LEEESSSNAR, (I love how he says his name), and denies Triple H’s match, and denies dropping the lawsuits that Heyman and Lesnar both have against the WWE. Triple H then walks back in, says some words about Brock being the “face” of Summerslam, lawsuits, and egos. They both trade words about eachother, with Heyman getting the better of Triple H’s own ego, by comparing him to Vince McMahon derisively, daring Triple H to punch him, and finally mentioning Triple H’s wife, Stephanie McMahon. At that point, Triple H grabs Heyman by the collar, choking him, and then punches Paul Heyman in the face, because he does not understand what lawsuits are or what assault and battery is, or how mind games are supposed to work. Paul Heyman-1, Triple H-0

So on No Way Out, Santino wrestled Ricardo Rodriguez, and this and Santino’s previous antagonism towards Ricardo,  has created a feud with Santino and Alberto Del Rio, now on Ricardo’s behalf. Expectedly, Del Rio very quickly demolishes Santino, and makes him tap out to the cross arm breaker. Ricardo Rodriguez then exacts a small amount of revenge on Santino, and DDT’s him into the mat. The whole match itself wasn’t longer than 3-4 minutes, but I suppose it’s a step to seeing Del Rio slowly amassing victories again, until he’s back on the top of the roster.

I watch Raw to see weird male soap opera and occasionally some wrestling. Not Cyndi Lauper. So I have nothing to say about her at all. Ever. I’m the Big Show of Cyndi Lauper’s music. Thankfully, Heath Slater comes out and interrupts the bit, points out how dumb it is for her to be there, and starts singing, horribly off tune. He then is interrupted by Rowdy Roddy Piper, who comes in and gives praise for Cyndi Lauper, and presents her with a gold She Bop record. Heath Slater is not amused, and lets out a glorious “OOOHHH MY GAWWWWD, WHO CARES?”, and is promptly eye poked by Piper, and has the golden album smashed over his head by Lauper. Then they all dance. Sometimes I wonder why the hell a segment like this is even on a wrestling show, but then I just take a shot and remind myself to not think about it or else the Mind Gnomes come.

At No Way Out, Titus O’Neil and Darren Young became the #1 contenders for the Tag Team Titles, by defeating Primo and Epico, albeit with Abraham Washington’s help. Titus O’Neil and Darren Young also are finally given a tag team name, The Primetime Players, or Playas, I’m not sure yet. Either way, they’re a good team that has a funny catchphrase(millionsofdollarsmillionsofdollars) and work well together.  Even though I don’t much care for Primo and Epico, they’re at least a legit tag team, and is certainly seems that WWE is fixed on revitalizing their pretty stagnant tag team division, one baby step at a time. All in all it was a pretty good tag team match, with a good balance of double team moves and tags, until AW decides to let Epico and Primo win by count out, claiming that they don’t need to win this match, since they’re already #1 contenders. For a heel, this isn’t cowardly, it’s being smart, and as a heel team, it makes sense for them. Why risk a needless match when you’re already guaranteed a title shot? So I’m officially siding with the Primetime Players as my tag team of choice in the future.


On a side note, how funny is it that Jericho’s band is called Fozzy? You named your band after a Muppet dude. C’mon.

We come back after the break, to John Laurinaitis, giving his farewell speech. He tells us what happened at No Way Out, and calls the fans and the WWE universe losers. It was a pretty great meltdown, and he then introduces the match itself, and Otunga and Big Show enter.

Can we talk for a minute about Big Show’s WMD Bear shirt?

I never really stopped to take a moment and think about it, but if you actually look at it and think about it, outside of the vague context it’s given in the WWE, it makes absolutely no sense. It’s a skull and crossbones, but nobody knows what a bear skull looks like, so they put a roaring grizzly’s head instead. Then in the spaces between the bones you’ve got the WMD letters, which stand for the name of Show’s finisher. It’s hard enough to buy that a single punch to the head should even be a finisher, but he manages to make it work, and if you give a stupid move a big enough lead up and sell, anything will work. The Rock does this with his elbow drop, and Hogan did it with his leg drop, and you’d be silly to think those moves did any more damage than a normal leg or elbow drop, as you would with Show’s head punch. But I digress, since the move is called WMD because it’s as powerful as one, and the bear is there because…. he’s as big as a bear? As ferocious? They may have mentioned why at some point in the past, but now it just stands out as a strange, apocryphal comparison to make, since he really has no bear like traits at all. Add to that the crossbones, and you’ve got the makings of a shirt that is at best, really really weird, and not at all intimidating.

Anyhow, after Show enters, Teddy Long appears ringside, and tears up his My Name Is Teddy Name Tag (nooooo!). Show then mentions his IRONCLAD contract again, and goes on to abandon Otunga and Laurinaitis in the ring, saying how he’s already proven himself to be able to beat Cena on his own. Cena enters, and the match finally starts. Cena then puts pretty big hurt on Otunga, all the while Otunga tries to tag in Laurinaitis, but Laurinaitis keeps refusing to tag. Slowly things start to even out, and Otunga gets the upper hand. Only after Cena is down, does Laurinaitis strip himself of his arm sling and neck brace, and begin stomping on Cena, yelling “People Power” in between stomps.

Laurinaitis tries to tag Otunga back in, but Otunga refuses, and walks away, ditching John to  a huge cheer from the crowd, leaving Laurinaitis alone with Cena in the ring. I really hope this is the beginning of a face turn for Otunga, because goddammit I really like him. Cena then gets up, lays the Five Moves Of Doom on Laurinaitis, and then adjusts his attitude three times in a row, at the behest of Teddy Long and the crowd. A quick STF makes Laurinaitis tap out, and Cena wins the match. So as usual, Cena ends up beating someone who is 100% unequipped to fairly face him, and acts like it’s a glorious win for himself and all of The People, and the show ends as we all try to forget those thousands of anti-bullying PSAs that John Cena so heartily endorses, in between bullying tons of people on his show every week. Good Job Cena, go hog wild!

I’ll miss you John Laurinaitis, Former Executive Vice President of Talent Relations and General Manager of Smackdown and Raw. You truly brought power to the people.

WWE Monday Night Raw Recap & Review: 6/11/12

Tonight’s Raw was 3 hours long, which usually means we get around 30 minutes of actual wrestling, and 2 1/2 hours of video packages and skits. So I was not surprised when Raw began with John Laurinaitis entering the ring, closely followed by Vince McMahon, who is here to give Mr.Laurinaitis his performance evaluation. On TV. Like all normal chairmen do. Watching the whole segment was a series of weirdly and poorly rehearsed dialogue that was botched continually by both men involved, and many of their lines were flubbed so often it made me start looking at the abundance of misspelled crowd signs, many saying “your fired” (sic).

So the two old executive types argue for a bit about Laurinaitis’ future, with Johnny L himself claiming to have been serving the people’s wishes, (which he has, people just don’t realize what a great heel character he is), until Sheamus shows up and throws insults at Laurinaitis, making Big L schedule a match for Sheamus, because all insults and transgressions in wrestling are settled by a match. Vince then tells Laurinaitis that if the match isn’t impressive, and if every match In the show tonight isn’t up to par, then he’ll be fired. As I Thought, it’s YOU’RE FIIIIIRRRRRED Vince who is partially returning tonight. Vince then crashes Laurinaitis’ super scooter off the stage, ruining one of Laurinaitis’ better character props.  I imagine that backstage he was using it to try to gain sympathy from other wrestlers, playing up the wounded lion card as hard as he could, not realizing everybody knows that it’s not even needed for kayfabe reasons, but he truly thinks he’s a mastermind duping everybody and looking totally awesome while doing it.

Sheamus’ opponent is revealed to be Lord Tensai, who I really can’t stand and is probably the only person I’d cheer for Sheamus to defeat. Between the two it’s a match where two boring invincible white guys fight each other until Sheamus manages to brogue kick Tensai and nab the win. After his defeat by Cena, Tensai is now broken, he’s lost his undefeatable power and possibly his mystical asian powers too, and is now just a normal Tensai and has lost his rights to Lordship. Or something. Either way, it was a boring match.

Backstage, Vince McMahon tells Laurinaitis that match is strike one towards Laurinaitis getting fired. To be fair it was a pretty horrible match, and Johnny starts to scramble for ideas and actually asks Teddy Long for match advice. This might as well be career suicide because Teddy has never made an interesting or creative match ever. His entire thought process is:

Wrestlers? Feud? “Lemme Hep you a minnut playa!”, Impromptu Tag team match? Feud settled? ??? Dancing!

This is all he knows.

Teddy suggests a 4 way elimination match with Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, The Great Khali, and Christian, which aside from being a very loosely associated group (former world champions? Khali had the belt? What a dark and horrible thought). He stipulates the winner will face Sheamus for the title at No Way Out. This isn’t too bad, because it means either Ziggler or Christian will end up at No Way Out, unless they’ve gone full retard and really decide to push Great Khali as someone who can do anything other than painfully limp around and fake chop people. Of course, Vince loves the idea and Laurinaitis sends Teddy off to get coffee. This is a new/interestkng spin for Teddy’s character, and him becoming the downtrodden matchup genius who is stymied by his superiors, and gets the credit for his booking ideas stolen, is a neat one, and I’d be into it, if it was literally anyone with a booking history other than Teddy Long.  But WWE hates continuity, so we’ll have to keep pretending like Teddy is some kind of matchup genius who has been unjustly wronged. Surprisingly, we return to the ring, where Tensai is insulting and attacking his man-servant Sakamoto, because he’s a big angry baby who hates losing.

Then there’s a video package commemorating the upcoming 1000 episodes of Raw milestone, by showing a 2009 clip where Seth Green showed up and hosted/wrestled, because THAT was a defining Raw moment, somehow. Seth green, wrestling legend. You know. Because that makes sense. Anyhow, we cut to R-Truth talking up the match between Big Show and John Cena at No Way Out, until Big Show’s fist Monty Pythons its way into the screen, smashing R-Truth in the face, knocking him out cold. We barely even see Big Show, he walks away really soon and the camera just focuses on R-truth laying unconscious.

Assuming that Show plans to continue to do this to the entire roster, it makes me think that Big Show’s new contract also includes secret invisibility powers, because HOW do you miss that man coming at you fists clenched? Maybe he got detachable rocket fists with his new contract, or some kind of psychic ability to innately stay out of peripheral vision? Anything to explain R-truth and John Cena both not noticing GIANT FISTS coming at them somehow.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen an inter-gender tag match, but the match itself was fairly entertaining, as Ricardo is a talented spot taker, and Santino is at the very least, good at comedy matches.  Plus the inclusion of them in the match made this pseudo-divas match last longer than the usual 2 minutes in its entirety. Beth wins the match by defeating Layla, and Ricardo starts celebrating as if he’d won himself. Santino then jumps up, and rips off Ricardo’s dress shirt, revealing a purple Justin Bieber shirt underneath. And that’s a sentence I just typed. Wow.

Apparently Ricardo isn’t a true Belieber.

Backstage David Otunga is talking with Vince McMahon, and is trying to snipe Laurinaitis’ job, IF he gets fired. Vince counters that he doesn’t like people who “pucker up”, backstab others, or lawyers. Which is weird, because of those three things, only Lawyer is something Vince hasn’t forced others to do or has been himself. Clearly he’s forgotten his whole reign during the Attitude era. Kofi Kingston enters demanding a match with Big show, in revenge for Show taking out R-Truth earlier, and Laurinaitis calls his incredibly stupid bluff, and puts him in a cage match with Show. So let’s look forward to Kofi Kingston hopefully getting WMD’d into oblivion, and never wrestling again, and we’ll finally be free of the suffix “Boom” being added to wrestling lexicon in any way shape or form.

Thankfully, we cut to Daniel Bryan who starts a promo about his triple threat match with himself, CM Punk and Kane at No Way Out, and proceeds to comment on the interaction between all of them and AJ. It’s a decent promo, and it furthers his character motivation for winning the match at No Way Out, and then CM Punk appears. Punk lays down a bevy of insults towards Daniel Bryan and continues his backhanded compliments towards AJ by stating again that he digs crazy chicks. They trade insults and hints towards their respective ROH past, and Punk basically explains out loud, that despite Daniel Bryan saying he’s sold out, he’s still the same guy he was last year when he made his 4th wall breaking promo. This is interesting, because a lot of fans have criticized Punk for basically acting like a heel, despite currently being face. In effect, this explains his actions, as he hasn’t actually changed his admittedly dickish, heelish behavior that much, he just has more fans now. It’s a good thing, because it makes sense, and goes a long way towards setting up his inevitable heel turn in the future, whenever that may be.

Punk continues insulting Daniel Bryan coming up with a new chant for anti-Bryan fans, by calling him goat face. The crowd chants “GOATFACE GOATFACE”, which is pretty funny any way you slice it. These two have great chemistry together, and I could watch them wrestle and/or argue all day. Then Kane has to come and ruin it all with his fire music, and walks in with a mic, and says dumb things about how eeeeeevil he is, and how he’s gonna win the championship. Then of course, AJ enters the ring, and actually starts to begin a possible LOVE TRIANGLE (wait, 4 people… Love Square? Whatever) storyline with Kane, claiming she saw that he has a heart, deep down, after looking into his eyes. Which really proves that she IS crazy, because he’s KANE. The guy who literally drags people to hell, sets them on fire, and is a goddamned rapist. So I guess that match at No Way Out isn’t just for the WWE title, but also for AJ’S LOVE. Which kinda makes me wish I was a wrestler and could be in that match, because screw the title amirite? But sadly, this is not the case. I’m imagining the worst case scenario being this whole thing turning into a situation where she seduces all three of them and they have the worlds worst 4-way, and we’re forced to see Kane, Punk and Bryan all Eiffel Tower AJ while Zack Ryder films it for his YouTube channel. Thank god we don’t live in the dark world my mind creates, because that would officially be The Worst Thing.

Regardless of that horrible image I put in your head, there was no video of this segment yet, so this picture will have to suffice.

“Once You Go Bryan, There’s No Point In Tryin’, AWWW YEAAAHHH”- Actual quote by Daniel Bryan during this segment I wish I had video of.

Laurinaitis then interrupts, and borrows a page from Teddy Long’s handbook, and schedules all 4 of them to have a tag team match. It’s an hour and change into Raw, and so far we’ve had two matches of actual wrestling. I’m hoping that this isn’t the precedent that will be set for the July 23rd change, when Raw permanently becomes 3 hours long. Who am I kidding, of course it will be.

Great Khali is not a wrestler. He cannot wrestle.  He is bad at his job, and is only there to appeal to Indian wrestling fans, which is a sizable demographic, so i understand why he’s necessary, but holy crap is it impossible to employ an actually talented wrestler of Indian ethnicity? Even Jinder Mahal is a lousy, boring, borderline racist jobber. Get someone talented, named him the The Bollywood Basher or something, and fire Khali. The man can barely walk, I’m sure he just wants to relax and rub some icy-hot into his probably aching joints.  I’m also sure he’s a great person in real life, but holy crap I do not want to see him chop people anymore. It’s awful.

So after Khali is eliminated, the match picks up greatly, and we get a great series of setups and spots between Dolph Ziggler and Christian, that leads to Ziggler finally getting a clean win and becoming the #1 Contender for the World Heavyweight Championship. It’s about time Ziggler gets his due, because he deserves to be at the top, and even if he loses his match for the title, it’ll advance him further as the best #Heel in WWE.

For Realsies.

This scene with Vince and the Funkadactyls is notable for two reasons:

1.) It finally gives the Funkadactyls actual purpose and character, even if they’re kinda annoying.
2.) Vince McMahon summoning Brodus Clays music, disco ball, and mood lighting OUT OF NOWHERE is goddamned funny. Dude’s got swagger.

Follow it up with Zach Ryder standing there, reacting exactly the same way I did, made it even sweeter.

Ryback’s jobbers this week are named Willard Fillmore and Rutherford P.S Hayes. Anytime you get historical presidential references in WWE, it’s a guaranteed awesome moment, even if they’re doomed to be power bombed to death. If anything this needs to continue, where each week the Jobbers Ryback wrestles get more and more bizarre, until he’s literally pitted against three 4′ 8″ historically accurate wrestling versions of history’s major players. This week! Ryback vs The Founding Fathers, Benjamin “Shocker” Franklin, Thomas “Sugar” Jefferson, and John “The Cock” Hancock! Then Ryback ends the match by ripping up the Articles of Confederation and forcing them to write the Declaration of Independence.

Or maybe he’ll just keep Goldberging new local skinny guys to sate his man flesh addiction. Either way, I’m looking forward to it.

Back from the break, we see Vince McMahon getting back in touch with his illegitimate child, Hornswoggle (seriously, thats WWE canon), and then John Cena enters to convince McMahon to fire Laurinaitis, by belittling him. Vince then tells Cena to NOT interfere with Kofi Kingstons ma… his mat… Sorry, his MAHahaahahah sorry, Kofi Kingstons MATCH (pffft) against Big Show. The thought of Kofi up against New Monster Big Show in a cage match is actually laughable to me. Anyhow, then McMahon considers giving Cena some sort of involvement in tonight’s show. Otunga enters, and gets insulted by McMahon, we see William Regal looking sad, and we all die a little inside.

Surprise. Big Show wins. Kofi sadly doesn’t die in ring. Next.

Sin Cara is back on Raw again, and brings his mood lighting with him. I’m not sure why he has mood lighting for his matches, but I bet it can’t be beneficial to his vision with that mask on. Maybe its same sort of thing where he summons mood lighting via his presence alone, and it’s an ability he learned from Vince McMahon. Anyhow, Sin Cara does a bunch of flips and pins Hawkins. Sin Cara racks up another win, and maybe one day we’ll get to see him wrestle someone interesting.

Backstage, Vince approaches Daniel Bryan. This segment is for all the Smarks out there, who are aware of Vince’s propensity to not hire guys who he thinks are “Too small” to compete in the WWE. He likens Daniel Bryan to someone you would see on the street and never expect to be a wrestler, let alone a world champion. We’re then treated to a glorious moment where Bryan utterly shuts down Vince by bringing up his previous firing, his subsequent re-hiring and proving everyone who doubted him wrong, and most of all, proclaiming (correctly) that he and Vince are both self-made success stories. Vince then smugly reminds him of his 18 second Wrestlemania loss, and wanders away, because making a real point would take an effort. Daniel Bryan brushes it off, and readies himself for his upcoming match. Then we’re told that John Laurinaitis has invited a former superstar to compete in tonight’s show, in commemoration of the 1000 episodes of Raw thing again.

And the former “Main Eventer” is: VADER. Holy crap! I didn’t even know he was still alive!

Vader shows up, looking in surprisingly good shape for a dude his size and age. The crowds enthusiasm for Vader alone, begins to wear against Heath Slater’s stamina, and we all know a stiff breeze can take him out. So it’s pretty unsurprising when the fans begin chanting “Vader Bomb”, and Vader then ends it with a Vader Bomb. Cutting to AJ, we see Punk comforting her by assuring her that he’ll keep her safe in the match, and AJ responds with her continued Overly Attached Girlfriend act, and kisses him on the cheek.

This matches whole dynamic is pretty much a glorified handicap match. CM Punk literally even says so in an earlier segment. Punk accidentally bumps into AJ and the Ref for some reason considers it a tag. AJ then enters the ring and faces Kane. She stares at him for a few seconds, smiles, and then starts SKIPPING IN CIRCLES AROUND HIM, LEAPS INTO HIS ARMS, STRADDLES HIM, AND FULL ON KISSES HIM ON THE MOUTH. It was astounding. I never thought I’d EVER say this, but holy crap, Kane is getting to first base on Raw, consensually! Furthermore, I’m ODDLY JEALOUS OF HIM. Kane stands there, dumbfounded, and utterly confused, tags in Daniel Bryan, and probably tucks his boner back, when out of camera. Daniel Bryan steps in the ring with AJ, and she tags in Punk, who quickly elbow drops Bryan and wins the match. Kane walks away, still puzzled and probably horny, while AJ sits in the ring and smiles oddly at CM Punk, and generally just looks adorable. Everyone else in the world, is f*cking confused.

Returning from the break, Vince McMahon struts back out into the ring, surrounded by security guards to give John Laurinaitis his performance evaluation. Laurinaitis enters the ring to be evaluated, and Vince tells him the guards are here to escort Laurinaitis out of the ring, after he fires him. John then argues for his job using People Power as the backbone of his argument. Right before Vince can fire Laurinaitis, Big Show interrupts, and enters the ring. Big Show backs up Laurinaitis, mentions how his Ironclad Contract can let him do whatever he wants, and even if Vince fires him, he’d end up paying him millions of dollars,(MILLIONSOFDOLLASMILLIONSOFDOLLASMILLIONSOFDOLLARS!)for many years, to do nothing. Which sounds like a pretty great contract if you ask me.

Show then brings up every stupid costume, appearance, promo, backstage story and embarrassing moment in his career, blaming it on the behest of Vince McMahon. Tired of being his dancing monkey, Show declares himself a GIANT (WCW yay!), rallies against John Cena, and of course, is interrupted by Cena himself. Cena charges down, tries to blame Laurinaitis for all of his and Show’s problems, ignoring all of the completely valid reasons Show has given over the last two weeks for his actions. He then tries to say that Show is somehow selfish or greedy for being mad at having to do stupid bullshit for 14 years, and then suggests that if Show doesn’t beat him at No Way Out, somehow Show will have nobody to blame but himself for his actions, which makes as much sense as AJ falling for Kane, but I digress.

Cena then calls Show a sell out, and asks him what will happen if Show loses? Vince then says he’ll be at No Way Out, and makes a new stipulation to the match. That stipulation being if he loses, he’ll fire Laurinaitis on the spot. Show then attacks Cena, the body guards intervene, and Show starts throwing them around too. Laurinaitis and McMahon then try to stop Cena and Big Show from fighting. Big Show accidentally knocks out McMahon, and is then put on backstage time out by Laurinaitis. The show ends on a shot of Vince McMahon, unconscious.

Then they took his shoes and wallet.

So, this is probably what we’re gonna start getting come July 23rd. A 3 hour show, with around 40-50 minutes of wrestling at best. That’s not to say I wasn’t entertained by tonight’s Raw, I definitely was, but the pacing has been better than the first hour consisting of only 2 matches. I’m going to remain optimistic, and hope that the new format will force them to structure their shows better, and improve Raw overall.

It probably won’t though. Oh well.

WWE Monday Night Raw Recap & Review: 6/4/12

We open with a really over the top dramatic recap of last weeks raw, complete with wailing middle eastern music, showing Big Show further emphasizing his new heel turn, as he beats on fan favorites Santino and Zack Ryder. Big Show is exactly the kind of heel I like, and its been a long time since he’s been the unstoppable big monster character. Most importantly, his motivations, while simple, make sense, are consistent, and it’s fun to watch him really be the big bad he should be. Mark Henry does this sometimes, until he suddenly decides not to, and fades away into the ether for a month or so. Michael Cole comes out, and summons John Cena to the ring, (I mean, not literally, but that’d be a great gimmick for both of them), blaming him for Show’s heel turn and Show’s subsequent actions. They argue back and forth awhile until John Laurinaitis shows up in his super scooter, ( love it) and gives Cena a match, as long as it’s not against himself, or Show in turn, as his contract now guarantees rest days. Cena parades around, and then challenges Michael Cole to a match, because reasons, while Cole protests, screaming to Lauriniaitis to reconsider.

After the break, Cole confronts Laurinaitis backstage, begging to be relieved of his match with Cena, which makes Laurinaitis smugly and directly dismiss Coles pleas. It’s possibly the first ever truly crowd pleasing decision he’s ever made, and he wheels out of there, leaving Cole standing, dumbfounded.  Vickie Guerrero enters the stage, and announces Dolph Zigglers entrance, stating that DZ is “Better than you, at everything he does”, which will probably piss off Jericho whenever he returns, since that’s literally a word away from his catchphrase, which was a huge point of contention just a few months ago when he feuded with CM Punk over who was “best in the world”.

I’m glad Ziggler is getting back into singles matches. I liked his team up with Jack Swagger, but the WWE never seemed keen putting them as legit tag title contenders, nor do they seem interested in an actual tag division lately, as their current champions, R-Truth and Kofi Kingston seemed to be teamed up for no reason other than “both are black?” I digress, since the match between Ziggler and Sheamus served as a pretty good example of yet another case where we see Ziggler show us how to make losing look really good. Nobody takes a brogue kick to the face like Ziggler.

This is actually from an older match, but JESUS GOD.

Sheamus celebrates on the ramp, pounding his chest like usual until he’s interrupted by Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez, who beat the tar out of him, and Del Rio puts him in an armlock, totally hurting Sheamus’ arm for realsies. Backstage, Laurinaitus is approached by the inimitable David Otunga, who mentions that next week, Vince McMahon will be returning to give Laurinaitus a job evaluation. No word on whether it’ll be NO CHANCE IN HELL Vince, Kiss my Ass Vince,  YOU’RE FIRRRREEDD Vince, or just business man Vince. Either way it’ll definitely be a thing that happens. Ahem.

Sin Cara’s new entrance is interesting, because pre-injury he used to enter the ring with a jumping flip off a trampoline that the cameras desperately didn’t want the viewers at home to know about. Camacho and Hunico, shock of shockers, are actually on Raw, and despite their gimmick being really lame and borderline offensive, Hunico manages to pull off a successful jobbing to Sin Cara, and Sin Cara’s push continues.

The undefeated Skip Sheffield Ryback, makes his official debut on Raw. It’d seem they’re trying to get more of the talent from Smackdown on Raw lately, as Smackdown has made a considerable improvement from B-Show to actually-kinda-interesting side-show in the past couple months. Ryback reminds me of those old generic wrestling figures you’d beg your mom to buy you in the dollar store, only come to life, right down to his “taunt” being the inability to move his arms laterally. The two local jobbers they have this time, have a terrible moment trying to read their awful lines simultaneously, and are quickly dispatched by Ryback, who belts out his catchphrase, “Feed me more!” because he apparently craves young skinny man flesh.

Punk and Kane are now having a weird triangle feud with Daniel Bryan, as Kane has been used as an instrument by both Bryan and Punk in their respective feud, and Kane isn’t really having any of it from either of them. Bryan comes out ringside, stands on the announcer’s table, and cuts a quick Q & A promo. I love these because it gives the audience a great chance to shout “Yes!”, or in the case of this particular audience, shout “No!”. Either way it’s great for Bryan , because he makes a great heel who gets exactly the right kind of heat he should get from an audience, regardless if they hate him or love him. Do I love him? Yes. Yes, yes, yes.

CM Punks match with Kane is pretty typical, he’s very accomplished at elevating his competitors moves, and making all their spots look really great for both. It’s a testament to his ability, that he makes Kane look good, because frankly, Kane has lost it, and his fruit roll up mask does him no favors in making him any better than he was in the Attitude era, or even a few years ago. His new/old gimmick doesn’t work, because all of his decisions are so stupid and random. ( hurr imma attack Randy Orton for no reason! He’s not invincible or anything!) Granted that was a few months ago, but his character hasn’t really done anything interesting since he suddenly returned after somehow growing two feet of hair in a month or so.  After some struggling and mild interference from Bryan, AJ comes out, ostensibly trying to point out Daniel Bryan’s interference, until Punk gets distracted attacking Bryan, and loses to Kane via choke slam. Of course, there’s then a woman in the ring with Kane, which means its time for him to threateningly stand there, until AJ strangely smiles at him, probably trying to use her mind powers to calm his “inner beast”. Or maybe he was just awestruck by her hotness, didn’t know what to do, and left like an awkward high school teen? Kane is dumb, is what i’m saying.

AJ is going further down the crazy/aggressive/effing super sexy route, and starts sexually intimidating Josh Matthews. Well as much as she can in this new PG era. I like seeing her assert herself, I like seeing her character interact with Punk and Bryan, and most of all, I like seeing her in short short cutoffs.

Big Show as a heel works. This was a good video package, and I’m stoked to see him feud with any and everybody who he deems is in his way. It’s a welcome return to his “unstoppable giant” character, that I loved from his old WCW days. I approve.

Both Kofi and Truth show up visibly bandaged from their attack by Big Show last week, and throw down against Hawkins and Reks, in a fairly anemic tag team match. It’s hard to get involved in a tag match, when both teams don’t really have any chemistry, and it makes the whole thing forgettable and boring. Also Kofi Kingstons theme song is the worst thing to ever get stuck in your head ever, and I hate it with an unholy passion.

The entire night, Michael Cole has been fearing and dreading his match with John Cena, and has been trying to find some sort of way out of the match, even going to such lengths as to beg all the WWE fans on social media, to convince Laurinaitis to rescind his decision, via people power!

Right before the match begins, Laurinaitis comes out, and announces our real main event, claiming Cena will have to defeat Lord Tensai, in order to get his match with Cole. Cole is ecstatic, and we get a match of Cena pretending to be challenged by a fat, fake Japanese wrestler.  Fake Japanese as in a wrestler from Japan, not that Tensai is literally supposed to be Japanese, or that he didn’t actually wrestle in Japan, because he did, but he’s still just as boring to me as Cena is, his gimmick is really really lame, and the whole thing is fake to me. Tensai and Cena both suffer from big invincible white guy syndrome, and watching them both fight you’d think would be an interesting match, but I find them so inherently uninteresting. The only enjoyable thing about it was watching Cole really get jazzed about Tensai defeating Cena, only to eventually smack Cena himself, leading to Jerry Lawler standing up and giving him an official Officials’ time out.

Cena eventually lands the 5 moves of Doom on Tensai, secures the win, and Cole attempts to run out of the arena, before being brought back into the ring. Cole first asks mercy from Cena, and attempts to settle things with a handshake, and is then goaded into taunting Cena, ends up poking his finger into his chest, until John Cena starts literally stripping him down to his underwear, and starts slapping him around, then forces him to apologize to Jerry Lawler and JR for all the feuds he’s had with them in the past. Then of all things, he starts forcing Cole to admit he loves JRs BBQ sauce, which of course, Lawler *always* keeps ringside. Cena drenches Cole in the sauce, and sprays him with a fire extinguisher, making it officially one of the more confusing and subtly homoerotic comedy matches of all time. Cena seems dominant right up until Lord Tensai jumps in and choke slams him, leaving us to think Cole will weasel another victory under his belt, but Robo-Cena kicks out, and adjusts Coles’ attitude, taking the win.

It’s not often you see the final match on Raw, ending with both participants covered in BBQ sauce, one spraying a fire extinguisher in celebration, the other stripped down to his underwear, wailing aloud. How do I feel about comedy matches being the main event of a PPV and now a Raw? I’m personally okay with it, as long as it is entertaining. I watch WWE to be entertained. I go in knowing I’m not going to see GREAT WRESTLING. If I want that I’ll pop in a Chikara or ROH dvd. Or look up regional matches on youtube. Like it or not, this is what WWE is now, and that will sometimes include slathering nearly naked men in BBQ sauce.