Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January 30, 2012 WWE Raw Review


I was dreading last night's Raw.  The Royal Rumble was mediocre at best and for the last week they had threatened us with the return of Triple H, or HHH, or Trips, or Aytch, or Trippy Aytch, or I-Really-Hate-Talking-About-This-Guy-But-I-Can't-Stop-Myself (ASSHOLE for short).

Last night started with #bigjohnny himself, John Laurinaitis.  Mr Excitement is a bit of a litmus test for wrestling fans.  If you love him you are likely a person of sophistication and taste who can discuss at length your favorite novels by Faulkner or McCarthy.  If you hate him you are likely a dummy who thinks Triple H is a legitimate badass in real life.
Just say no to Triple H, kids.
True story time from THESTINGER: I used to play in a Live Action Role Playing game a decade ago.  One of the guys that ran it went by Triple H because he really fucking loved Triple H.  Now, this guy was a big loser who was kind of stupid and not at all funny but he was inspired enough by Triple H to get into really good shape.  He even grew a long ponytail like Triple H.  Man, I hated that guy.

Laurinaitis starts out last night and hams it up with the audience.  He then continues to talk about how great a job he has done and how he deserves to stay as Raw General Manager.  I agree, too.  If we look at his storyline role we can all see that Raw has been pretty good and he sets up interesting matches.  If we look at this as the farce it is we can all agree that he's hysterical and layered and just an amazing character.  He could have so easily been Vince McMahon version 2 but instead he's awkward, weirdly humble, and just otherwise the most interesting and layered character on wrestling these days.

Punk then comes out and just ruins things.  He sings that awful "Goodbye" song like we're watching the Toledo Mudhens lose to the Norfolk Tides.  I so very badly want to like CM Punk.  I don't want to keep talking about this but what he did last summer was amazing and just something special.  It's so easy to book him and write storylines for him so I am baffled by why he has this weird feud with Laurinaitis that goes nowhere and is about nothing.  I'm serious, can anyone tell me what the crux of this feud is?  Laurinaitis was a corporate stooge and maybe schemed but has since then been very fair and has even gone out of his way to apologize for where he has done wrong.  What's the meat of this feud?

CM Punk has reached full on Triple H levels of terrible.  The crowd is to blame as well and I get really uncomfortable when I see a heel acting like a total jackass, and doing so in the most boring way possible, while being cheered for bullying someone who is less popular.  I feel like I'm in middle school again.  It's easy to joke about the whole Be A STAR thing but the amount of cognitive dissonance that occurs must be lethal to the writing team.

At this point I start to realize that maybe I shouldn't be so afraid of Triple H since we have to spend a half hour every week with his lovechild with Freddy Mercury.  That's not a dig at homosexuals, I just think CM Punk looks like Freddie Mercury.
Or maybe I'm seeing something that isn't there? *
The rest of this segment had Daniel Bryan coming out and outshining CM Punk on the mic followed by Sheamus teasing his reveal of who he wants to face at Wrestlemania.  First, I want to reiterate a point: Daniel Bryan came out and outdid CM Punk on the mic.  The American Dragon is my favorite active wrestler, although I've been binging on El Generico videos lately so maybe he's a close number two, but at no point did I think he was great on the mic.  Better than people give him credit for?  Sure.  Great?  No, but last night he was.  I'm so fully on board with his heel turn and his militant veganism that I can barely contain my excitement.  Also, I like Sheamus so adding him to this whole thing makes me happy.  Goodjob, WWE.

At this point we get to move onto WRESTLING!  Ziggler is the man and I'm glad Randy Orton is back.  They had a good match and I think Ziggler looked good.  Some at the With Leather Open Discussion thought it was a squash but Ziggler looked strong, had some good offence, and the match went ten minutes.  Ziggler is solid but he will likely lose against 40 time World Champions.  It is what it is.

I found it interesting that according to Ziggler the Rough Ryder is more devastating than a Superplex.  Ziggler sold the Superplex fine, but with how horrifyingly violent he reacted to a Rough Ryder I half expected Ziggler to just splatter against the mat like a bag of blood when Orton gave him a Superplex.

Next up we got to see some Funkasaurus action.  It's been almost a month and I'm still 100% on board with Brodus Clay.  I get happy when he shows up.  It's unfortunate that he squashed Tyler Reks as 1) Tyler Reks could be big if they gave him a chance and 2) Funkasaurus versus T Reks should be a huge feud for the ages (get it? I'm referring to the Jurassic Age).

I am very excited by the prospect of a CM Punk and Daniel Bryan feud.  They gave these two guys a good amount of time to put on a great match.  I know I complain about CM Punk a lot but when he shuts up about reproductive organs and just wrestles I instantly love the man.  Daniel Bryan and him have such good chemistry that they need to let them have a full on feud with hour long matches in the future.

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your perspective, the match didn't get a proper finish as Jericho came out to hit Punk.  This is what I was getting to yesterday: Jericho didn't need to win the Royal Rumble to feud with Punk since they will naturally just go after each other anyway.  The fortunate thing about Jericho ruining the match was that if the match went for another ten minutes and had a normal finish it would have likely been the best match we would see in the WWE this year and it depresses me to think the next 11 months wouldn't be as good.  Thanks WWE?

At this point we're over halfway into the show and there's no sign of Triple H.  The two full matches we've seen have made me feel less angry about the Royal Rumble.  I can learn to live paying for inconsistent PPVs if their free shows are going to be really awesome.

I would talk about Mike Tyson being inducted into the Hall of Fame but I don't care.  I really don't.  The Hall of Fame exists to give people who can't, or shouldn't, wrestle anymore a chance to say some heart warming stuff and we all feel good.  After that I never think of it.  I can't be upset at Macho Man not being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame since he has long had a spot in the Hall of Fame of THESTINGER's HEART.

Next up we get to see Kofi Kingston and The Miz 'rassle.  I like Kofi even if I don't understand the question marks but maybe that's the question they're supposed to elicit?  Very meta, Kofi.  I also really like The Miz.  There's something about The Miz that I just really like and seeing these two guys have a match makes me happy since they both have a lot to offer.  It was a quick match but solid and I can't complain.

Next we get the most perfect Divas match ever.  In less than a minute Beth Phoenix remembers that she's an actual wrestler and Glam Slams Eve because it's Eve.  I agree with others that while I'm totally against the harrassment, rape, torture, and stalking of women that Eve's scared response to Kane was funny.  Good job!

John Cena comes out and makes the save.  Now, I fully admit that this feud does nothing for me save contain a lot of bad elements of the WWE into its own storyline so it can't containment everything I love.  With that being said I kind of appreciated how they got into one of those grappling-rolling-around-brawling-little-kid-fights that constitute what a real fight actually looks like for most of the world.  That was a nice touch to make it feel real, or something.

At the end we get Triple H.  This entire time I got suckered into enjoying an episode I had previously been dreading.  I was starting to fool myself into thinking that maybe Triple H was Jonah Hill and largely a figment of my imagination.  Then he showed up and was real and the crowd is cheering him and I'm hating myself and hating the crowd and thinking of voting Ron Paul and embracing the hate or something.  Fuck.

Look, I love Motorhead.  My father got me into Motorhead when I was a kid.  It's something my old man and I share.  Triple H's very existence makes me love Motorhead and my father less and less every day.  He's an asshole.

At this point Triple H becomes unbearable even in a world where we're grading on a curve.  I know I was harsh on Punk earlier but I take it back: CM Punk has a long way to go before I hate him as much as Triple H.  CM Punk feels like he's trying to be Triple H but Triple H just manages to convey that sense of entitlement so perfectly and effortlessly.

This whole time Laurinaitis is groveling and asking for mercy.  Laurinaitis is not a proud man but I think he really believes in things and has feelings and Triple H is just trying to make him feel bad.  The way the crowd reacts and how Triple H feeds off of that ugliness just makes me think of how inately fascist we all really are.

If I didn't have some very lucky breaks in my childhood I would be up there with these people cheering at the humiliation of an awkward guy who is otherwise harmless.  I can't imagine how my life would be if I didn't have Mrs Davis making me love reading in 2nd grade or Mr Roper teaching me chess and critical thinking in 5th grade.  Who would I be if my mother didn't meet my step dad who loved me like his own son and taught me about respect and discipline and Motorhead?  I grew up poor and all of my cousins and my sister have grown up to be fairly base individuals with a low level of self actualization.  Through sheer luck I managed to break free from that cycle of poverty, despair, and ugliness.  Otherwise I would be in that crowd cheering at Coolest-Guy-In-The-World Triple H emasculating a harmless and goofy man.

Look, we're not supposed to hate Triple H.  We're supposed to think he's the coolest and best wrestler ever and that everyone else sucks compared to him.  We're supposed to think he's who we should all model our lives after.  We're supposed to hate #bigjohnny because he's a nerd or something?  This is where the WWE gets ugly and awful and I hate it.  Stop doing it.

Then, we get Undertaker.  I fucking love Taker.  I can't say much else besides that.  He's the Undertaker.  What am I going to write about?  I'm glad it appears that Triple H is backing down from another match with Taker at Wrestlemania.  No one wants to see that.  Even Triple H fans don't want to see that and if they do they're wrong.

I'm actually in favor of Sheamus using his Royal Rumble win to challenge Taker.  I think Sheamus is credible enough to do it and he'll be around long enough that a match with the Dead Man will have dividends in the future.  As much as I want to see a Sheamus-D Bry feud I think I would prefer this if it let us avoid another Triple H match.

At the end of the day I enjoyed this episode and I was really expecting to hate it.  Good job, WWE.  Big thanks to the wonderful and brilliant posters at the With Leather Open Discussion.  They would make TNA worth watching.  They're incredibly funny and nice.  I'm serious, many people there like RumHam, LastTexansFan, FunkyWarmMedina, Tobogganing Bear, and lots of others are really supportive and just radical.

Thanks, guys!
THESTINGER


*To be fair to Punk, Laurinaitis looks like the bad guy from Commando to me.


Also, I'm shamelessly stealing gifs from Jerusalem on the Something Awful Forums.  It's been years since I posted there (maybe since 2001 when I was a hateful college freshman posting on the internet) but yeah, I'm stealing it.  I'll try to remember my account to clear it with him in the future.  <3

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