Welcome back to RAW Rambling, brothers. This week I’m going to try something a little different in the interest of context. If you’re not a regular follower of this wacky wrestling thing that I’m ranting about here every week, check out the new Quick ‘n’ Dirty paragraph situated right below last week’s recap. There I’ll provide a basic rundown of the show’s developments so that when you make your way down to the meat of the column, it might make a little more sense – as if wrestling was ever sensical to begin with.
When we last saw our heroes: The squick quotient was upped into the stratosphere by John Cena and AJ Lee with an extended in-ring slobbering session. Dolph Ziggler, perhaps on behalf of the audience, took that moment to pounce, which led to Cena reinjuring himself in the ensuing chase. That’s what happens when you try to run with a boner; the low-top sneakers probably didn’t help either.
Meanwhile! CM Punk and Paul Heyman celebrated Punk’s 365th day as WWE champion. A wild Ryback appeared, but so did the uplifted NXT trio of Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and ALL-CAPS DEAN AMBROSE, allowing the beatdown finish from Survivor Series to be repeated for the benefit of those smart enough not to spend money on pay-per-view events. It was super effective.
The Quick ‘n’ Dirty: This week, the aforementioned trio was packaged as The Shield and their goals established as “correcting injustices” and “fighting dishonours”. I guess my next Klingon character in Star Trek Online will have to be named Dean Ambrose now. They took out Daniel Bryan, Kane, and Ryback (again) to close the show, much to the bewilderment of onlooking CM Punk. The John Cena/AJ Lee “scandal” storyline also continued to sputter along. No closure there. In romantic angles that haven’t been ruined yet, Rosa Mendes and Alberto Del Rio are still chasing each other. Elsewhere, Big Show and Seamus are set to beat each other silly with chairs at TLC; Tamina Snuka knocked Alicia Fox down a peg (so that’s -1 pegs, if you’re counting); Damien Sandow killed a little time taking Zack Ryder apart; Khali and Hornswoggle are a wacky pair, but can they get along in the suburbs?!
• Ryback functions pretty well as a curtain-jerker, but he might be even better as a Mortal Kombat-style overseer who just sits at ringside and randomly yells slogans at people. “Wake up” and “finish it” just need a bonus stage quote to complete the triad. This would be preferable to letting him shout/pant into a live microphone. Very few people here would benefit from a manager more than Ryback. Apparently, chanting three words over and over throughout a commercial break exerts him enough to start sweating all over the place.
• Vickie Guerrero’s title of “managing supervisor” is the new “assistant to the regional manager”. Dwight Shrute would own this place.
• Memo to Michael Cole: “swoggled” is not a thing, so please stop trying to make it a thing. Bonus drinking game rule: drink whenever the WWE tries too hard to force a talking point into popular usage. “Wildcat Kofi Kingston” alone could put you in a coma these past few weeks. A nice, comfortable, warm little coma.
• Rosa Mendes swaps between languages so frequently she could be a character in a bad episode of Firefly. If there were bad episodes of Firefly. Does “Safe” count? That one had by far the thickest and most awkward uses of bilingualism on that show.
• While I’m dropping old TV references all over the place: The Great Khali is Kramer and Hornswoggle is Mickey. That’s the only way I can accept this pairing. Have Hornswoggle start flying off the handle at people for no reason, it might work. Anyway, keeping Khali around only makes sense if he’s used to make Alberto Del Rio and others look good, so all’s
well tolerable at the moment. Anything more than that and I’ll just let Barney Stinson here explain my feelings for me.
• Paul Heyman’s “innocent until proven guilty” was perfect. This cat could act circles around a lot of people in Hollywood if he weren’t so firmly entrenched in the wrestling world. Is it too much to hope for that he’ll be around in a highly visible, dialogue-heavy role until the end of time, and somehow not get himself on the wrong side of management like he usually does? Watching this guy chew scenery is one of my only reliable excuses to keep tuning in every week.
• The interview with Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and Dean Ambrose accomplished exactly what it needed to: they exposed Ambrose’s speaking abilities to that 95% of the audience who never watched FCW; Rollins as the vaguely CM Punk-ish figure (some very similar inflections and mannerisms there; hopefully the Jeff Hardy prediction doesn’t come true); and Reigns was very wisely reserved, which I suppose makes him the Batista of the group. Bonus points for referencing Nexus and shooting down the annoying NWO meme that’s been going around.
• Oh, and those three collectively are now called The Shield, and their philosophy is somewhat Lawful Evil. As usual, the supposed bad guys on this show make a lot more sense than the good guys. That tends to happen when you write actual characters as opposed to walking merch tables.
• I was hoping that Tamina Snuka would keep her Turks bodyguard suit as ring attire. Her old music also doesn’t mesh terribly well with this new twist on her character, so why not go all-out with it? Even just the theme from Reservoir Dogs would be an improvement. I guess what I’m saying here is that she rocked that suit.
• This week in appropriate “what?” chants: any usage during the “scandal” segment of the show. It’s normally one notch below Smackdown’s canned heat on the scale of shit I hate about wrestling, but if they were used as a barometer for crowd opinion (which they aren’t, obviously) I could tolerate the chant’s continued existence. But only because the far more direct “this is boring” fell out of common usage years ago. Too many syllables in “boring”, I suppose.
• Daniel Bryan making fun of CNN’s magical map graphics may be a few weeks too late, but it’s still damn funny anyway. He and Kane should do that every time “the universe” is tasked with a Twitter poll, because it’s an impossible gimmick to take seriously so they may as well have fun with it. Also, I love how Bryan somehow has the ability to manipulate random backstage TV monitors with hand motions. It’s just as ridiculous as Kane’s “fire powers” but far more mundane. That tickles me a bit.
• Memo: any future matches between Daniel Bryan and Rey Mysterio need to be at least twice as long as this one. These two work well with just about everyone, so of course they’re great against each other. Put ’em in there for an hour, I’d watch that.
• Seeing John Cena go into Hulk Hogan mode while trapped in Dolph Ziggler’s sleeper hold, then immediately segue into an STF like nothing happened, makes me more of a Ziggler fan than ever. Cena’s superhuman act is annoying enough under normal circumstances; watching him pull that while he’s also supposed to be selling an injury just makes my brain hurt.
• If you didn’t watch The Soup’s little WWE crossover episode, it was worth 30 minutes of your time, so go find it. Go figure, it was was much less PG than anything the WWE has produced on their own in the last few years, so that novelty alone was pretty fun. Joel McHale and Daniel Bryan in one room was almost too much hilarity for me to handle. Combinations like these almost make up for McHale’s tiny and overhyped role on Sons of Anarchy this season.
• Seamus the character continues to make no damn sense at all, but Seamus the fighter is getting more and more fun to watch, especially pitted against Antonio Cesaro. That said, Cesaro’s style has already begun to eclipse anything Seamus is doing based on those uppercuts alone. I have to wonder if Cesaro has something on his gloves that go *clack* whenever he punches the air, like the stories I used to hear about Tajiri’s boots, or if he’s really working that stiff. Whatever the case, there are very few spots in the WWE that look better than Cesaro’s badass uppercut counter on a flying opponent, or the one he does while he’s flying.
• Best moment of unintentional comedy: watching Big Show awkwardly rip apart a chair as a show of strength – shades of TNA-era Ric Flair – followed by Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler bending over backwards for the next two segments trying to sell it.
• Damien Sandow is still awesome. Until Cody Rhodes recovers and they can get back to whatever was planned for them originally, that’s all that needs to be said. Each and every week.
• I like how they’re keeping CM Punk on the periphery of The Shield’s antics for now. While there’s obviously an expiration date attached to that holding pattern, it does allow two story branches to be considered: first, they could align The Shield with Punk and Heyman as most are predicting, thus forming the next big heel stable the internet is always clamouring for, which is the most likely choice.
Alternatively, they could use The Shield as a mechanism to turn Punk face again, since his heel turn obviously isn’t working too well and no amount of Jerry Lawler heart attack jokes seem to be helping.
That’s all for this week. Tune in next time for another round of tweaks and tucks, if need be.