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RAW Rambling 11/19/12: We’re All Paul Heyman Guys

Then! Survivor Series happened, during which Team Ziggler narrowly defeated Team Foley to finally settle no grievances in particular. Seamus carried a 500lb man on his shoulders. Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and ALL-CAPS DEAN AMBROSE pulled a three-man Nexus routine on Ryback, thus ensuring the undying loyalty of both /r/SquaredCircle and NeoGAF for years to come. Dean shot Lucifer in the head with the Colt, but it had no effect. Now!

• According to Ryback, he is the hunter, and CM Punk’s alleged triad of conspirators are the prey. That never worked out very well for the Hirogen, if memory serves.

da9 worf bashir

• If Tensai is still here for any reason, it’s to be fed to guys like Ryback the day after a big loss, to avoid making a big star appear weak. In Ryback’s case, only Tensai or maybe Brodus Clay work as such; having him squash local indies and Heath Slater wouldn’t do the trick. It’s such a situational role that it almost seems pointless. Or, it’s The Worf Effect.

• Ever noticed how many wrestlers in the WWE these days do something similar to Ryback’s shoulder-pump-thing whenever they’re waiting for an opponent to stand up? Seamus, Kofi Kingston, Randy Orton, and Zack Ryder all have some variation of it, and that’s just off the top of my head. I’ve started to liken this to an RPG boss switching idle animations to “charge up” a big attack for a few turns. Kill it before the timer runs out!

• The WWE is still pushing that “longest running episodic television series” line on us. Take that, Gunsmoke! Really, does anyone care about that statistic? Show of hands.

• I wonder where Wade Barrett would be on the ladder had he not been sidelined for so long with that injury. Probably not in little non-title matches with Kofi, I’d bet. And he’d probably have renamed “the souvenir” to “the bullhammer” a long time ago too, or just switched to a different finisher entirely. Maybe there’d be a magical briefcase in the picture. Alternate universes, tons of fun! By the way, there’s something on your back…

• “I’m A Paul Heyman Guy” t-shirts are now a thing that exist. I sort of want one, but I also kind of see it as something that I could just wander down to the local Dog’s Ear and make from scratch myself. And there’s no way that’s not going to be another puzzle piece in all this speculation over a new Heyman stable. Unless they’re doing it just to troll the internet, in which case I’m onboard even more.

wwe aksana kaitlyn

• For all I know Aksana could be far better in the ring than she appears, but without a little more time, who would know? The length of these matches do their participants no justice. The crowds would probably start to care more if that time was provided, and therefore the product given room to develop, otherwise the reasons are few. Time = exposure + energy. The talent is there, even with the recent exodus of skilled workers like Beth Phoenix. It just has to be booked properly.

Of course, the longer the women’s matches become, the more of Jerry Lawler being Jerry Lawler we’ll have to put up with.

• I’m perfectly fine with Brodus Clay only existing to be deadlifted by Antonio Cesaro like a boss. Fun fact: that is something Cesaro has done in two consecutive matches with Clay, while Ryback could only manage to get Tensai up once. Allegations of sandbagging or not, it’s a feat that shouldn’t go unnoticed just because Cesaro is the guy you’re supposed to chant “USA!” at as if he were Nikolai Volkoff and the Cold War was still happening.

• Anyone who complains about Vickie Guerrero needs to realize that no one else, not even the guy who’s supposed to be your top heel, can attract her level of crowd heat simply by opening her mouth. I can’t even remember the last person who pulled that off night after night. Whoever is capable of that needs to be front-and-center.

wwe vickie guerrero

• I had a good laugh at the sight of Vickie’s witnesses clearing the ring when John Cena’s music hit. No doubt they’re aware of how WWE babyfaces act in 2012, via Seamus herp-derping his way through a Z-grade Han Solo routine. If you’re a civilian, you’d actually be safer with the heels. The only thing funnier was watching Cena trip over his own shoes trying to chase down Dolph Zigger.

• If any part of AJ’s former character survived her run as general manager, it finally died along with the John Cena makeout skit. The reason the “Summer of AJ” happened at all is because she carried herself with a slightly enigmatic and potentially manipulative air of puppetmastery that no female wrestler (hell, very few male ones) have ever approached. Was she really into Daniel Bryan, Kane, or CM Punk? Was she crazy, or was it all part of her act? Even when she left Bryan at the altar for career-minded reasons (more fun facts: wrestling characters are incapable of multitasking) there was at least some sense to it in context with what came before. That AJ would’ve reacted to her demotion and Vickie’s attacks with more mind games, she didn’t need John Cena or anyone else to prop her up. This AJ has instead lost the “self-rescuing” prefix on her geeky t-shirts and is now simply another princess.

• The only potential J. Michael Straczynski trap door left for AJ’s story to take would be for John Cena to unintentionally resurrect that same ambiguously insane side of her personality that had us all speculating over the summer. That should naturally lead her towards either A) Jedi Mind Tricking John Cena into killing himself with Triple H’s sledgehammer, or B) linking up with Daniel Bryan and Kane again, the possibilities there being too awesome to dare dream of.

• When Paul E. Heyman wants balloons, you’d best find the man some damn balloons.

wwe miz book

• Compare this version of Babyface Miz with the original goofhawk’d version from several years ago. It’s amazing how much he’s improved since those days, and how little I want to see him stuffed in a duffel bag and mailed to the Kaiser. Time heals all wounds, apparently.

• One little point I forgot to make on the forums about Smackdown (since generally speaking nothing worth mentioning ever happens there): Damien Sandow holds a microphone like a glass of brandy. Fantastic.

• I like Tamina Snuka as the silent bodyguard type. She could be the missing Turk.

• Not to question the internal logic of a wrestling universe where people routinely attend important meetings in their underwear, but is there a reason why almost everyone in the locker room is standing around in towels despite not competing on the show’s card? Also, take a look at how easily those shower stalls fell apart during the brawl. They weren’t double-bolted!

• The Prime Time Players with the referee whistles = Edge & Christian with the kazoos. Now that A.W. isn’t around to throw shoes at people, they need to be on those whistles approximately 110% of the time. Incidentally, those two are surprisingly great on commentary. #millionsofdollars

• Further issues of internal logic: how is it that people aren’t simply gently rolling away from Rey Mysterio’s 619 set up all the time? It’s a finisher predicament that any functioning human being should be able to escape by accident.

• CM Punk looks to the future, 2018 in particular, and sets his sights on Bruno Sammartino’s WWE Title reign record. The real joke here is the insinuation that Main Event and ION Television will even still exist in six years. For that matter, by then the bombs will have fallen, the Vancouver Canucks will have won a Stanley Cup, and Ted Mosby will have finally hit the mental breakdown that leads to him telling his invisible children how he met their nonexistent mother.

wwe paul heyman balloons

• The finish to Survivor Series is repeated with a nary a diversion. Ten currency units of your choice says that when Rollins, Reigns, and Ambrose finally remove those combat jackets they’re wearing for whatever reason, they’ll have Paul Heyman Guy t-shirts on underneath. It’s been long enough since Big Show’s Team ECW swerve for that to fly, right? What is it that Jim Cornette said about the seven-year shelf life of wrestling angles?

That’s all for this week! Join me next time when two palette-swapped AJ Lees will battle to decide the fate of the multiverse. That is why the cloister bell keeps ringing, right?

RAW Rambling 11/05/12: England Elevates Everything

Oh hi! Didn’t see you there. Welcome back to RAW Rambling, my collection of random thoughts and stray observations on the WWE’s flagship show.

Just a reminder: this is not and never will be a full recap article. If I miss a segment or two, it’s probably because they weren’t interesting enough to talk about. Blame the writers. Finally, I’m not doing Smackdown, TNA, or anything else that would require going through this process more than once a week. This ain’t The Soup for wrestling, although if someone else wants to start that up I think it would be hilarious.

If you like what you’re reading, why not click the shiny sharing buttons at the bottom? Or hop into the comments for a little further discussion if you’re feeling talkative. You could also join our Facebook group if that’s your thing. For now, let’s get on with it!

Last time on The Amazing Race WWE RAW: Team Foley and Team Punk were formed for Survivor Series. Ryback chanted a lot. And… that’s it? The Disembodied Voice of Recaps mentions nothing on the subject of John Cena and AJ, which is fine by me. And now the conclusion!

wwe miz heyman

• The Miz takes issue with Paul Heyman and CM Punk retreating from the big kerfuffle last week, which is a funny point of contention to take if you’re at all familiar with how this show works. Step 1: form teams. Step 2: start brawling. Step 3: the heels retreat. Anyway, Miz quits the team! That’s a somewhat rare little twist.

• I like the new style of “previously on” video packages the WWE is rolling with, but the dramatic tones and voiceovers backfire slightly when your dealing with a TMZ-level storyline dubbed “The AJ Scandal”. It feels like The Daily Show parodying a political attack ad.

• Using Tout and Twitter to set up new rivalries is a horrible idea. It makes sense (to a certain extent, and only under protest) for fan interaction and whatnot, but you’ve got three hours of television to fill, guys. You don’t need social media gimmicks to tell stories. Use the time you already have.

• Pitting Antonio Cesaro against R-Truth, regardless of the tag stuff, makes me wonder if Justin Gabriel has already been tossed back down the ladder. Not unexpected if that’s the case, yet still a tad disappointing. Gabriel is arguably better than Kofi Kingston at the “jump, jump, kick” routine and Evan Bourne’s return is looking more and more doubtful.

wwe mcmahon vickie

• Hey, can we just go ahead and do RAW in England every week? The fans are always phenomenal, reacting to nearly everything with twice the energy of the average American crowd, and they’re also savvy enough to hang lampshades on everything. This John Cena/Vickie Guerrero/Vince McMahon segment would’ve dragged into the pits of hell along with all the others if it were in the Staples Center or MSG, but in Birmingham, the crowd energy alone spins even the worst talking head skits into gold.

• Just to cement my adulation further: the reaction to Daniel Bryan is insane. As in “post-Wrestlemania, birth of Yes” insane. It makes an already awesome match with Cody Rhodes even better.

• Paul Heyman does the recruitment rounds and manages to snare Wade Barrett as a replacement for The Miz. However, Barrett makes it clear that Heyman now owes him a favour. Wade Barrett continues to be the only sane man, in case you haven’t been paying attention.

wwe brad maddox

• “Young Brad Maddox” as JR calls him looks an awful lot like a young Eric Bischoff. Kid can really talk, too. It would be hilariously ironic if those mic skills eventually land Maddox on commentary after all this backstory exposition about never getting a chance on the WWE’s main roster.

• Maddox vs. Ryback is on for next week, at Maddox’s request, with a million dollar contract on the table for Maddox if he wins. So we can pretty much write the ending to next week’s show right now.

wwe brad maddox
Behold: the future.

• Even the UK’s “what” chants (“wot” chants?) are delivered with gusto. Even still, my calendar says 2012, so you guys can stop doing that whenever you want.

• Vince and Vickie are awesome together.

• Big Show: the word “construed” does not mean what you think it means. With very few exceptions, wrestlers who try to sound intelligent on commentary usually end up dropping Rickyisms.

• Team Punk is now Team Ziggler and John Cena is back into the title scene with Ryback. So this whole week of Survivor Series team-ups and the involvement of Mick Foley has been entirely pointless. Say, anyone think that the total lack of consistent storytelling might have something to do with the WWE’s ratings woes? Naw, can’t be.

wwe aksana layla

• Aksana is wrestling. Activate the Jackie Gayda advisory system, all hands to the escape pods, etc. Not to take anything away from Eve, Layla, and Kaitlyn, who are all varying shades of awesome, but this would be a great place to have Paige materialize out of nowhere and just full-on Goldberg everyone in there.

• Alberto Del Rio is an oddity. In theory, I should be enjoying his stuff, but none of his rivalries or even his random matches have worked for me so far. Not Sheamus, not Randy Orton, and not throwaway encounters with dudes like Kofi Kingston. Maybe it’s just a matter of stumbling on the right match-up, but wow, it’s really taking a while to get there, isn’t it?

• Primo & Epico enter to absolutely no reaction, not even from this otherwise hot crowd. They are truly the Kaientai of 2012. Though at least Kaientai were evil and not to be trusted, ahahahaha, indeed. A free piece of nonexistent Caffeine-Fueled merch to the first person who can score me one of the old Evil shirts.

• Still loving The Uso’s entrance. More of that and less of the Santino/Ryder wristbands and arm socks, please.

wwe heath slater

• Funny how even in the 3 Man Band jobber comedy stable, Drew “Vince McMahon’s Chosen One” McIntyre is still the least visible member.

• This week’s main event only drives home further how ill-advised the abrupt insertion of John Cena back into the WWE title chase really is. Just watch everything Cena and Ziggler were doing in this match and imagine that as a full, proper angle. They don’t need the title to make that work. Abandoning that pairing feels like the WWE creative masterminds are leaving money on the table, so hopefully they have the sense not to completely turn away from it. I just hope AJ’s part in it is killed and she’s allowed to go be awesome somewhere else.

That’s it, that’s all! See you next week, when the final demise of Linda McMahon’s senate campaign will have allowed the WWE to return to its decidedly non-PG roots. Right? Right. So get off your asses and go vote! Make sure that when Ric Flair eventually returns, he’ll be allowed to blade all over the place like a boss.

ric flair blades

RAW Rambling 10/29/12: The Madness Returns

Years ago on an earlier incarnation of this site, I ran a weekly column called RAW Is Madness. It was a very simple premise, and hardly a unique one: I would watch episodes of WWE RAW as they aired and when it was over, voila! A few thousand words had somehow appeared on my screen, plodding on about DX crotch chops or crappy Nickelback theme songs or insufferable celebrity guest “general managers”.

That’s not going to happen this time. I may be crazy, but I’d prefer to imagine that I’m crazy for better reasons than dudes and ladies in tights pretending to kill each other. Wrestling may have come a long way since the halcyon days of those old Madness articles, but not nearly far enough to justify writing myself into an institution.

Also, every episode of RAW is three hours long now. All of time and space cannot contain such lunacy!

So here’s what’s going to happen: I’m going to watch WWE RAW every week with this here writin’ window open, and if some words should just happen to randomly fall onto the page, then so be it. This won’t be a series of blow-by-blow recaps like you’ll find on 411 (they’re still operating in 2012? Now that’s madness!) nor will it be in the same league as Brandon Stroud’s fantastic Best & Worst of RAW column. It’ll just be whatever thoughts, erudite or mundane, that fall into my head during those three hours. Take it or leave it, kids.

So, here we go!

LAST TIME ON BATTLESTAR GALACTICA WWE RAW: Or rather, Sunday’s Hell in the Cell pay-per-view, which felt oddly named considering how only one match was in the cell and it ended in about the same time as the diva’s match preceding it, and without a clean finish. Also, John Cena was inserted into the AJ Lee storyline for some reason. Follow the t-shirt sales, I guess. AND NOW THE CONCLUSION!

wwe mick foley

• Always nice to see Mick Foley, but is it still a surprise to see him when he shows up every month? He and CM Punk set up Team Foley vs. Team Punk for Survivor Series, which is three weeks away, just in case you didn’t think there’s enough PPVs on the schedule.

• A JTG sighting! (Still employed, 5 years and 169 days!) Wild JTGs can be found in tall grass. He’s fed to Ryback who I guess already caught a JTG at some point and doesn’t need another one. A few years ago it was Sho Funaki in this spot, right? Afterwards, Ryback gets on the mic (!) and shouts something about being hungry. So… we’re going to keep getting that until the Goldberg chants stop, aren’t we.

Orton/Barret is what it is. I thought Orton was supposed to be off shooting a movie somewhere?

• WWE short-term memory loss #1: last week AJ “resigned” as GM, this week it was a “firing”.

wwe daniel bryan kane hell no

Team Hell No/Primetime Players? May as well. Anything to keep the tag division’s recovery going full tilt, and Daniel Bryan/Kane still soaking up the spotlight. The champions stealing pinfalls from each other is lots of fun, though it must suck for anyone keeping track of win-loss statistics. Mr. Layfield?

• No one gets heat quite like Vickie Guerrero. Vickie Heat is the new X-Pac Heat. Still a notch down from “John Cena Theme Song Heat” for me personally, of course. All praise to the holy mute button: conquerer of endless Garageband loops.

• Vickie’s presentation of evidence regarding the Cena/AJ connection started to remind me of the trial scene in Chrono Trigger almost immediately. Cue the music!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFtRyxrQieI

Now keep it going on a loop for the next ten minutes because this whole segment is terrible. If what we’re getting here, ostensibly a 1:1 rehash of Chris Jericho’s footage of CM Punk walking into an English pub circa-Wrestlemania, is the net result of Vince McMahon’s warpath through the writer’s room, then maybe he should’ve kept his mouth shut.

• I appreciate the continuity with Kofi Kingston and R-Truth. Keeping them aligned post-tag titles helps perpetuate the illusion that continuity even exists in this company, and there are worse people than those two to help build-up Antonio Cesaro.

• I am so onboard with the 3 Man Band if it means getting more Spinal Tap skits. “We’re transcendent.”

• Jerry Lawler returns in two weeks. Look, I don’t want to be that guy, but the commentary has been generally improved by his absence. I would rather have JR and especially JBL stick around – or Scott Stanford elevated to the big time, or William Regal brought up from NXT, or the surprising return of Uno and Dos – than see Lawler back on RAW.

wwe beth phoenix aj lee

• Having AJ back as an in-ring performer feels like a true return to form. Pitting her against Beth Phoenix is just sauce for the goose, Mr. Saavik, especially considering how I thought she was already gone. I want to see AJ vs. Phoenix every week for as long as possible, which unfortunately for me and fans of decent women’s wrestling everywhere, would appear to be tonight and tonight only.

• I’m setting my watch to the inevitable Rey Mysterio/Sin Cara split. That will be a fun angle, assuming that a mouthpiece is found for Sin Cara if necessary. But man, why couldn’t they have done this years ago with Mysterio and Ultimo Dragon? It was all right there.

• Someone buy Michael Cole a Latin dictionary.

• “In WWE ’13, you can do all the things you’ve been doing in every WWE game Yukes has ever done, and with a graphics engine that hasn’t been updated since the beginning of this console cycle! All with last year’s roster and miscellaneous trappings from before the RAW 1000 refresh, so the game will look immediately dated! In stores today!”

• Don’t read too much into Susan G. Komen unless you want to become cynical. See also: learning too much about dairy production, can’t enjoy milk any more.

• Paul Heyman’s picks for Team Punk include The Miz (a funny choice if you saw Punk’s opinion of Miz in the Best in the World documentary), Team Rhodes Scholars, Alberto Del Rio. Which means the makeup of Team Foley, as always with Survivor Series matches, will be the dudes currently feuding with the aforementioned names: Kofi Kingston, Team Hell No, Randy Orton. Ryback is of course Foley’s proxy, which I suppose implies that Cena’s injuries are worse than reported. I’ll take it!

That’s all for RAW Rambling this week. It shall return, minus the lengthy preamble, and continuing to pass over entire segments which did nothing and went nowhere AKA the entirety of Smackdown. So until next time, when I shall expect a gargoyle-esque statue of Beth Phoenix perching somewhere in every arena.

wwe beth phoenix
Ah! Just so.