Wrestling Worth Watching: WWE Raw (10/24/11) and SmackDown! (10/28/11)

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WWE Raw (10/24/11)

Kevin Nash Deadlifts Triple H: The whole segment would have been pretty awesome if it had been as quick and ruthless as an Attitude era segment, but once Kevin Nash’s assault on Triple H went on for sixteen, seventeen, twenty-seven minutes, I started hallucinating that one of the extras begging Nash for mercy was Claudio Castagnoli and that someday soon, there’d be something resembling wrestling on Raw. As it stands, Nash picking up 260 pounds of dead weight from the floor was awesome for two reasons: Triple H trying not to smile, and Nash grunting as he deadlifted his KOed ex-friend. The second part of that statement is no joke–there’s a big difference between powerbombing a dude and lifting his lifeless body off the ground, and the effort Nash exerted in lifting Triple H up did more to convey the “reality” of the situation than the somewhat-shoddy camera work that couldn’t quite hide that Nash was holding his hand over the head of the sledgehammer.

Johnny Ace Recognizes Unsafe Working Conditions When He Sees Them: I was wondering how nobody noticed that Ace reinstated the guys who caused unsafe working conditions, and how nobody complained that Alberto Del Rio and John Cena didn’t have a freakin’ ring to have their last man standing match in. Apparently Ace saw, and is now covering his bases.

Dynamic Dude Burns: There were two this week, one by Cena and one by Punk. I’m always a fan of obscure WCW trivia. Now they just need to give Ace his Dynamic Dudes music when he comes out to deliver his mesmerizing catchphrases.

Yes, WCW paid good money so that Shane Douglas and Johnny Ace could enter to THE FAT BOYS. Amazingly, the company survived to see 2001.

Zack Ryder As Cena’s Partner: NOTHING BAD CAN HAPPEN TO HIM TONIGHT, RIGHT GUYS?

Del Rio and CM Punk Argue: I’d rather they wrestled, but beggars can’t be choosers, and the eventual PPV match between them should be great. Punk’s “Are you Aretha Franklin?” line was absolutely cringeworthy, but his burns on Johnny Ace, including the second Dynamic Dudes burn of the night, was pretty awesome. Somewhere, Shane Douglas is weeping into an extra large pepperoni pizza.

Questionable Decision of the Week I: I don’t know if I’ve been complaining about how Triple H doesn’t seem to take anything seriously as the COO of the WWE, but if I have, I’m going to take that back. When he does take things seriously, he unleashes some wickedly awkward dialog that crosses the line between sentimental and unintentionally hilarious. First, it was “I love you, Pop.” Then, it was threatening to kick CM Punk’s “skinnyfat ass” (which is an actual bodybuilding insult and probably could have further legitimized CM Punk’s complaints re: HHH’s taste, but instead they never brought it up unless it was replayed in, like, every video package ever). Now, to open Raw, we have “Kevin Nash broke my heart.” How ridiculous was this line? Even looking past storyline inconsistencies (wouldn’t you expect to be backstabbed by a guy you had a Hell in a Cell match with?), pretty damn ridiculous. So ridiculous, in fact, that Joel McHale made fun of it. Behold!

Then, as if by magic, the Triple H/Kevin Nash thing went from “Oh wow, cool,” to “Oh man, this is still happening, and we’re three commercial breaks into the show.” And then they replayed it, like, seven times. The whole thing. It’s easy enough to skip the highlight reel when I’m watching NXT or Superstars or SmackDown! on YouTube, but live? In person? It just keeps going and going and going, and then you realize that neither Nash or Triple H are full-time active competitors but it still won’t stop because stopping would reveal weakness and, hey, don’t we have a title match and the return of the Rock to build to but, wait, HHH has spinal damage, let’s see how. That’s not a sentence, but the first thirty minutes of Raw wasn’t a segment, unless it was, in which case it was written by the William Faulkner stand-in from Barton Fink, or, hell, Barton Fink himself, who was told “write a wrestling segment,” only to decide that something that only needed to be quick and dirty should be slow-burning art instead. It wasn’t, and the whole show kind of suffered for it. I still love me some Kevin Nash, though.

Questionable Decision of the Week II: Having Alicia Fox beat Natalya. I don’t need to go any further, but I will: This was clearly meant to be a shocking moment where the crowd would go nuts seeing one of the Divas of Doom shut down by the Pez Whatley of WWE Divas, but there was no reaction from the live crowd and the shot of Eve and Kelly Kelly looking on condescendingly did nothing to further the feud. I guess this means that Kelly Kelly or Eve will get the next shot at the Diva’s Title, but, by rights, shouldn’t that belong to Alica Fox? Decisions surrounding the WWE Divas make my head hurt.

Questionable Decision of the Week III: The Michael Cole Challenge. Literally zero people want to see Jim Ross get further embarrassed by lame-ass WWE storylines, but man is creative unrelenting. He’s fat! He’s got Bell’s Palsy! He really likes college football and barbecue! And he’s also one of the best fucking play-by-play commentators in wrestling history, a dude who doesn’t need crappy angles to engender fan sympathy because the other choices given to the fans by the WWE other than Ross have by and large been terrible. I’ve grown to kind of like heelish Michael Cole and think that he brings something to the SmackDown! table, but this angle feels rushed and horrendous, and it’s hard to take any of Michael Cole’s remarks seriously as a result. If you want JR back on Raw full time, just put him back on Raw. I promise you, nobody will complain if you spare us fifteen minutes of awkward mockery and rolling around.

Questionable Decision of the Week IV: Having the Sharecroppers dick Zack Ryder out of his first main event. Again, here’s a guy that doesn’t need stuff like this to happen in order to garner fan support. If you put him in the ring and have the Sharecroppers work him over while John Cena looks on helplessly from his corner, I’m going to care about Zack Ryder. If you have him get taken out in the back and change the match to a handicap match (John Cena’s third favorite match!), I’m going to wonder where the hell Zack Ryder is.

Questionable Decision of the Week V: Bringing in the Rock to team with John Cena to take on the Sharecroppers. Yes, it’ll probably be good/entertaining/worth the money, but the Miz is an ex-reality show star and R-Truth used to be K-Kwick. They’ve yet to prove themselves as capable of withstanding the verbal fury of a celebrity guest host, and now they’re going to be standing toe-to-toe with the Rock? That’s like bringing in an atomic bomb to take care of the raccoon in your garbage can. I was looking forward to seeing this as a 5 on 5 Survivor Series match, but I guess those don’t exist anymore.

WWE SmackDown! (10/28/11) (Watch it on YouTube)

The ICP Hatchetman in the WWE Intro: Gets me every time. There are 1000s of videos of Cena raising the championship, and they pick the one that subtly ties what is probably a quarter of the fanbase to exactly the sort of reviled, non-PG entertainment the WWE has been trying to separate themselves from.

Everyone Come See the Greatest Show

CM Punk Clowning Around: When Punk won at Money in the Bank, the immediate response was “Wow, we have ourselves a new Steve Austin.” That was never going to happen. Not because Austin’s popularity is unmatched and tough to replicate, but because Punk and Austin are worlds apart when it comes to personality. While the heel Austin of the Two Man Power Trip and the InVasion had some quirkiness to him, Punk is ultimately too nerdy to be the new Austin, which is fine by me. Watching him wave to the camera and pump his fist in a mock “one more match” chant is either fun or grating depending on your opinion of the guy, but CM Punk is unique, a man unto his own identity. We should stop trying to declare anybody the new anything, and be happy when wrestlers are allowed to be themselves. Afterall…isn’t that who Steve Austin was?

Teddy Long’s Response to Being Compared to FDR: “Thank you very much, playa.”

 

Bitching: And bitching. And bitching. And bitching. And bitching. And bitching. And bitching. And bitching. And bitching. And bitching. And bitching. And bitching. The Punk/Christian show opener was one of the best in recent memory. No HHH. No John Cena. No Randy Orton. Two dudes who are very talented on the mic talking on the mic. They had absolutely no reason for their match later on in the night, but made it compelling, regardless. This, friends, is how promo segments should be.

R-Truth Makes A Good Point: After a good dismantling of WWE Tag Team Champions Air Boom, the Sharecroppers took to the microphone, where R-Truth said “We must have beat Cena braindead, because he picked the only guy who hates him more than we do.” I’m not sure what logic will have the Rock team with Cena this upcoming Monday (I hope it’s Muppet-related), but once again, a heel is making a plausible point. Now if they’d just explain why attacking Cena was so damn important to their master plan.

Daniel Bryan and Tyson Kidd Argue About the Bret Hart/Shawn Michaels DVD: You know, because D-Bryan was trained by Michaels, and Kidd is connected to the Harts? Midcard arguments are awesome! Especially when they’re between awesome midcarders! And Kidd got some good digs in, asking if Bryan’s favorite part was when Shawn “cried at the beginning, cried in the middle, or cried at the end.” The whole thing was awesome until Santino and his new, stupid hair cut broke it up, because since when did Santino gain the power to make matches?

Trent Baretta’s Tights: They feature Abe Lincoln. That’s unexpectedly awesome.

Cody Rhodes, Guest Commentator: Just about everything he said was gold. This, too often, is not the case with guest commentators, who usually do a good job of making me wish there were other TV shows I enjoy, to facilitate easier channel changing.

Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler: Ziggler keeps getting closer and closer to being a permanent part of the main event. Fantastic TV match against Randy Orton, who, since feuding with Christian over the summer, has consistently been part of his fair share of good matches. His mannerisms are getting goofier and goofier, and I hate that the ring apron DDT has now become a contrived spot as opposed to something that happens in the natural flow of the match, but his showings of late have actually been of interest, rather than being a long, drawn out wait for the RKO. The spot where he leapfrogged Vickie Gurerrero on the outside to attack Dolph was pretty cool, as was the finish of this bout. Good stuff.

Daniel Bryan vs. Tyson Kidd: They had four minutes. It was the best four minutes of wrestling this week. The Sharpshooter was countered into the LaBell Lock. More, I say. MORE.

Daniel Bryan Beard Tracker: Right now, it’s at a solid “Rugged.”

In His Awkward Way, Big Show Puts Mark Henry Over: He’s sounding more and more like a culturally out of touch dad (“Oops, I did it again” should have been left in the ancient past, like Show-Gunns. Or that lame reference to Show-Gunns), but, while talking about hurting places where he didn’t know he had places, Show did what seemingly no other WWE main eventer was going to, and noticed that Mark Henry is an absolute monster of a man, a mover of planets. I actually kind of marked out when Show asked for the ring to be reenforced, since that’s what any old announcer worth his salt would have said of a confrontation between two huge dudes.

CM Punk vs. Christian: Someday, these two will feud and it will be awesome. Tonight, they somehow had the third best match on the card, though it did well to build towards the eventual Punk vs. Del Rio match and continue Christian vs. Sheamus, which probably needs a Christian win at some point. If you’re a fan of either guy, this match bears watching. If not, I guess it’s a black mark on an otherwise very good episode of SmackDown!

Awesome Booker T Line of the Week: “Cody may have cooties, for all I know.” If the rumors are true and Booker T is going to be feuding with Cody Rhodes, this is one hell of a subtle way to get that ball rolling. A close runner-up was “I like Herman Cain. He’s my guy.”

Booker T’s Fave Five This Week: Wade Barrett, Daniel Bryan. Rough week for the Fave Five.

Questionable Decision of the Week I: Saying that the state of the World Heavyweight Championship is “in flux.” If it really is, then it sure as hell shouldn’t be. A draw’s a draw, regardless of how the draw happens, and the champion retains on all draws. End of discussion, WWE.

Questionable Decision of the Week II: Giving the Sharecroppers (That’s Miz and R-Truth, if you’re not up on my lingo), some tandem dance moves for their walk to the ring. Combine that with their cheerful rapping (something that they shouldn’t have brought back), and the pair are looking less and less like a dominant tag team gone rampant, and more like contestants on America’s Got Talent.

Questionable Decision of the Week III: While it was a good extended squash, there are three or four other tag teams on the roster who could have accomplished what Air Boom did in getting destroyed by the Sharecroppers. Two pay per views ago, Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne were on a level playing field. Now they get destroyed by a team that won’t even be in the hunt for the titles until after Survivor Series, if that? Were the Usos busy?

Questionable Decision of the Week IV: The Michael Cole Challenge is actually beating Michael Cole vs. Jerry Lawler for worst storyline of the year. The only way this could get worse is if Cole, after winning, makes fun of Dr. Death Steve Williams and brings out Fake Diesel and Fake Razor Ramon for awkward silence the likes of which only a 2011 Brian Christopher could earn.

At least Lawler finally admitted that Christopher was his kid. That “mystery” was hanging in the air like GTV.

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