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RAW Rambling 12/3/12: It’s Not A Lie If You Believe It

Welcome back to RAW Rambling, peeps. This is your weekly not-at-all-meant-to-be-taken-seriously look at the wacky wrestling sports entertainment circus that is WWE RAW. The real meat of this column are the stray observations to be found just beyond the first image below. Before that is a rundown of last week’s happenings and a quick ‘n’ dirty recap of this week’s show. Just in case you’re reading but not watching the episodes. Which is wise.

When we last saw our heroes: The Shield (not to be confused with S.H.I.E.L.D. but drawing from the same costuming department) made their interview debut. They’re here to forcefully eliminate injustices and dishonours, such as the same dudes getting title shots over and over for no reason… and rigged Twitter polls, apparently.

John Cena and AJ Lee continued their extremely awkward in-ring makeout sessions, which means that Dolph Ziggler has the honour of losing to Cena at the next pay-per-view. Because reasons. In less “High School Musical”-level romantic developments: Alberto Del Rio and Rosa Mendes exchanged a few subtle winks and nudges, like the grown adults they are.

Beyond the big-two angles: Big Show and Sheamus circled their calendars for a chairs match at TLC; Wade Barrett and Kofi Kingston will also meet in a title match; The Great Khali and Hornswoggle entered into a Cosmo Kramer/Mickey Abbott relationship.

This Week’s Quick ‘n’ Dirty Results: Team Hell No defeated the Prime Time Players in a match that only existed as a prelude to another Shield beatdown; AJ did a great job folding herself into origami shapes to sell Tamina’s offence and still won their match together anyway; The Miz solidified his face turn by jumping on CM Punk’s monologue, which resulted in a polygraph later on; John Cena/Sheamus were Teddy Long’d into a match against Dolph Ziggler/Big Show and won; Alberto Del Rio defeated Sin Cara just ’cause; Damien Sandow beat Santino just ’cause; Vince McMahon put the puzzle pieces together for Cena/Ziggler at TLC with Ziggler’s magic briefcase as collateral; Brad Maddox returned, lost to Randy Orton, who himself got jumped by Shield; US and Intercontinental title unification was teased with a great fatal four-way, but Antonio Cesaro prevented it for now; Shield reconvened to interrupt CM Punk’s polygraph session, but were routed by Hell No and Ryback.

…and now, the Rambling!

wwe kane daniel bryan hell no

• Unless he’s returning from a lengthy absence, what purpose does the huge delay between Kane’s pyro and his music still serve?

• The Shield’s calm and collected silent treatment is very effective, especially when looming over the arena from a skybox, not speaking or acting until necessary. Sometimes there’s only one of them in the skybox, sometimes they change positions while the camera is away, like house spiders or Weeping Angels. Even if the ultimate outcome is a foregone conclusion, there’s a chess match feel to it that I really enjoy. This is how you build suspense on a wrestling show and you don’t even need words to do it.

• Hey, remember the Kane who casually sauntered down to the ring and single-handedly annihilated the McMahon family, DX, and the Radicalz? Hard to believe that was almost fifteen years ago. These days, two Shield members are enough to take Kane apart. This really is the era of wrestlers who are just dudes, even the ones who were around back when wrestlers were supposed to be comic book characters. I wonder if the same thing would happen to Great Muta if he ever appears outside of Japan again.

• Thankfully, Kane and Daniel Bryan in deadly serious “let’s get shit done” mode could be the best they’ve ever been together and a totally necessary evolution of their team, since wacky Odd Couple hijinx can only last so long. Just ask Head Cheese or Booker T and Goldust.

wwe aj lee

• AJ is still extremely popular despite all the recent character assassination attempts made by the writers. She really doesn’t need John Cena. Putting her up against someone like Tamina Snuka for narrow squeaked-out victories by roll-up after getting tossed around like a rag doll may not be 100% ideal, but it’s certainly preferable to the alternative. There was hardly even a reference made to the “scandal” bullshit for the entire time that AJ was onscreen this week. Keep that up, please. Let Cena have his rivalry with Ziggler and AJ can have her thing with Tamina, and toss the root cause out the window for all I care. Some continuity should be ejected.

• Not only does Suited-Up Miz work surprisingly well as a babyface, he’s playing the good guy role better than any of the supposed “pure” babyfaces on the show. I actually kind of want to cheer for this guy rather than rolling my eyes and muting the TV whenever his music hits, which has been the case with both John Cena and Sheamus since I started watching this stuff again at Wrestlemania. He even wears pants!

• That said, the “walrus” insult against Paul Heyman is dumb (Be A Star!) and it’s entirely possible that I’m only giving Miz the thumbs-up because who the hell knows when Chris Jericho’s coming back.

• If the WWE insists on continuing their Teddy Long tag match routine with pairs of faces and heels in separate angles, at least make sure there’s an extra dimension to it somewhere, as was the case this time with Big Show (World Champion) and Ziggler (his eventual rival just waiting to cash-in). Not that anything was going to happen with that on free television, but still. Baby steps.

wwe brad maddox
Once again: Brad Maddox is the future.

• Brad Maddox returned to make sure that history never forgets the name Enterprise. I mean, Brad Maddox. And there’s my throwaway geek culture reference for the week. Maddox plays an amazing Hollywood-style sleazeball and even if all he ever does is talk and get fed to guys who don’t need minor victories like Randy Orton, I still consider that a win. Team Maddox!

• There’s an opportunity for an awesome outcome to this Cena/Ziggler Money in the Bank defence at TLC, and that would be to put Ziggler over Cena, thus reassuring everyone that they haven’t completely lost faith in the guy. That said, giving the magic briefcase to Cena might not be a total loss if it gets Hulk Hogan 2012 chasing the World Title instead of the WWE Title, even for just one PPV cycle. If he ultimately wins the World Title, great; it’s a secondary belt that could actually use a slight uplift, though the usual talk of a title unification is probably a pipe dream and I’d rather see someone other than Cena pull that off, obviously. If he loses, also great; Cena doesn’t really need it anyway and might be best used as a fall guy for someone who does, whether that’s Big Show or anyone else. As usual, the only loser is Ziggler.

• Free idea: if the WWE has their own iOS/Android app thing, then what the hell do they need Tout for? They could do all of that themselves through their own app with just a few nips/tucks. All they’d really need would be a profile system and camera functionality, which should be babytown frolics for any professional smartphone developer in 2012.

wwe wade barrett

• Now that I’ve raised the spectre of title unification (and not for the last time; I really want to see that happen someday) I wonder if that’s the plan for the United States and Intercontinental titles. Do we really need both of them now that the brand extension has all-but disappeared? Unification would be a nice short-term boost for whoever gets that push and the current roster isn’t quite large enough to require both.

• Kofi Kingston and R-Truth had a brief RVD/Tajiri moment there. I’ve missed that.

• Missed opportunity: have CM Punk pass the polygraph test, but reveal later on that it was a set up, with Miz and the random non-cop being just another cog in Paul Heyman’s machine. At the rate that The Shield makes new enemies, it can’t remain a three- or four-man crew forever unless the WWE truly plans on pushing the current members to the moon, plus a fake-out like that with Miz would be pretty cool, not to mention rare in an age when wrestling characters can remain stuck on one end of the Paragon/Renegade scale for years at a time. The finish we got was serviceable, with Punk’s exact involvement still a (rather shallow) mystery, but there’s always room for improvement.

wwe miz meme
Hiimdaisy really is everywhere these days.

Of course, it’s always possible that The Shield was never intended to be limited to just those three guys, regardless of what happens with Punk and Heyman. Maybe there are other folks down in NXT about to be called-up and mixed into it. Arguably, Kassius Ohno probably should’ve been slotted into Roman Reigns’ position right from the start, and other dudes like Big E. Langston or Leo Kruger could also work pretty well.

That’s all for this week. Stoke the flames of my ego with a comment below, or perhaps a Like or a Tweet if you truly care about my mental well-being. Until next time, I’m Del, and this is all my fault.

This week’s imagery courtesy of The Great Barrett Uprising, elpatronlordcris, wrestlingshowon, and rawsmackdownnxtdivas. Go give them a follow… and us, too!

RAW Rambling 11/26/12: Not Quite The Avengers Initiative

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?!

wwe cm punk twitter
There’s a Pulp Fiction joke here somewhere.

• 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.

barney stinson headshot

• 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.

wwe tamina snuka alicia fox

• 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.

wwe cm punk talking dead
Also, CM Punk + Community’s Yvette Nicole Brown + Walking Dead, that happened too.

• 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.

wwe damien sandow
Oh, Tumblr. Follow @themelter for more. You’re welcome.

• 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.

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 11/12/12: The Scripting Is Busted

Welcome back, kids. RAW Rambling this week is brought to you through a thick mental fog, which is what happens when proper sleep eludes you for a couple days. I could wake up one day to discover that I’m suddenly a wrestling booker. Who knows?

What was I saying? Lost my train of thought there. It’s lucky for me that I already write these things in such a haphazard fashion. Get off my porch!

Last time on Buffy the Vampire Slayer WWE RAW: Team Punk became Team Ziggler as the entire setup for Survivor Series was rewritten on the spot to abruptly insert John Cena back into the title picture. There was also a romantic dinner next to a fuse box. Brad Maddox, or “WWE Evil Referee #347”, challenged Ryback for a contract opportunity. Jane Fonda and “the wizard” were the last two people out of Atlanta before it sank. And now the conclusion!

• Randy Orton bores the hell out of me, but they’ve put him against Dolph Ziggler to jerk the curtain, so that’s something. Or it would be something under better circumstances, as opposed to Round 3 (4?) of Alberto Del Rio run-in interference. Do we really have to play that same card every week? If this were one of the games I’d suspect that the random plot generator is broken, stop playing and wait for the next patch.

• Everything old is new again: Theodore Long plays GM for a moment and surprises everyone under the age of ten by making another tag team match. Never think too hard about the WWE’s fictional chain of command unless you want to lose your damn mind. Also, there’s a YouTube supercut for this!

It would also be a great drinking game rule.

• Ziggler points out the unintentional comedy in John Cena going to dinner in his ring gear. Didn’t you know, Dolph? John Cena only owns one set of clothes. He’s like Tom Hanks’ character from The Terminal, but at least he wasn’t stuck with jorts for months at a time.

• Is it too late for us to dub this AJ/John Cena storyline “the fuse box scandal”? C’mon, let’s do this.

• The only way out of this voicemail weirdness that’s been added to #fusebox is to reveal that AJ did leave those messages on John Cena’s phone, but it was “the other AJ”, y’know? The AJ with all the headless barbie dolls or whatever. The AJ who kept us all guessing during the CM Punk/Daniel Bryan/Kane storyline, the AJ who put two of those guys through a table and YES’d her way to the end credits, the AJ with a “Summer of” attributed to her. The AJ we liked.

• Two William Regal matches in as many weeks? Has someone been peeking at my Christmas list? If either the BRASS KNUCKLES~! or Tajiri show up next week I’ll jump out of my chair.

• Free idea: have William Regal (the voice of NXT, if you’ve forgotten) resurface in a few weeks leading a third Nexus faction against Big Show. May as well, right? What else of interest are they doing with that title? Nexus could even tear the place apart again, just for old time’s sake.

• If there’s another way to overdramatize the Jerry Lawler situation, the WWE hasn’t discovered it yet. Adding a CM Punk interruption to Lawler’s return speech does however accomplish three things. First: it further cements the fact that the WWE will exploit any situation up to and including near death if there’s a story in it somewhere, while still firing guys for making Kobe Bryant jokes. Two: it lends credence to the crazy moon landing-level arguments about Lawler’s heart attack, which isn’t an element of the fanbase that you want to encourage. Third: it proves that absolutely nothing will get CM Punk over all the way as a monster heel. Lose-lose-lose.

wwe paul heyman

• On the other hand, Paul Heyman is always gold.

• I can’t even remember the last time I saw an eight-man tag match with four teams on two sides. This is exactly why the tag division is the best thing the WWE has going right now: it’s moving things forward, trying different combinations of people and stories in fresh ways, and elevating everyone involved, including a lot of people who really need it. They’re even mixing in subplots from elsewhere, like the Del Rio/Rosa thing. Contrast that with the WWE Title and World Title scenes and you have to wonder sometimes where the problem is.

• Tensai and Brodus Clay should have a battle to decide which giant can sink to the bottom of the roster the fastest. I wouldn’t be surprised to see either of them show up on NXT and lose to Seth Rollins at this point.

• Since the Brad Maddox thing seems to have been either a gigantic red herring or a time delay capsule to be popped at Survivor Series, maybe they can keep using the promise of a $1 million contract as a carrot-on-the-stick for Ryback’s future challengers. Or they’ll just redshirt Maddox constantly and keep bringing him back from the dead for laughs, like Dr. Forrester or Axel.

• Daniel Bryan’s jealousy of The Miz tagging with Kane, followed by his half-hearted and vaguely sarcastic cheering during the match, keeps the Hell No awesomeness going full-tilt. It’s also probably the best way to keep Miz’s face turn alive. Go ahead, try to boo anyone connected with Hell No. It just can’t be done.

• Only Michael Cole could get that excited about a Kid Rock/Flo Rida double bill.

wwe title cena ryback punk

• The end of the Punk/Cena main event could be my biggest chain of consecutive facepalms in ages, if it weren’t for the time I spent scrolling through certain Twitter hashtags after the election last week. Too much damage has already been done to Punk’s reign that having him watch feebly as Cena and Ryback play schoolyard tug-of-war with his title belt… there’s comedy in that, but only in the “what the hell are they doing” kind of way. You know those uneasy laughs and pained forehead rubs you see whenever someone drops phrases like “WCW Champion David Arquette”? We’re not there yet, but we’re inching ever closer. Your main championship and the dude holding it should never be a punchline.

That’s all today as I’m groggy enough to be well beyond the help of even the damn finest of damn fine coffee. I’ll see you all next week, by which point #fusebox will surely be trending worldwide on Twitter. So GET ON THAT!

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!


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.