The drummer from Spinal Tap.  Murphy Brown’s assistant. Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts. Number Two in The Prisoner.  Voices of Wrestling Raw Reviewer. These jobs have two things in common:

  1. I have in fact been employed as all of these things
  2. The people in these positions have a bad habit of dying.  That’s what happened to the last guy to review Raw for VOW right? Pretty sure the show finally ended up causing him to spontaneously combust. (Editor’s Note: Bryan Rose is still alive, check out his review of WrestleMania 1!)

So the king is dead, long live the king and all that.  My name is Sean and I’m taking over the role of Monday Night Raw reviewer until the show breaks me too. Pretty sure if you go to @VoicesWrestling on Twitter you can get in the pool on when that will be.

The briefest of intros before jumping in. I’ve been watching this stuff for 30 years now. I don’t watch as much as I did because life. I keep up somewhat with WWE, laugh at TNA from time to time, am developing an appreciation for current NJPW, and wait impatiently for the two weekends a year when SHIMMER comes to town. That’s right, VOW actually has someone who likes women’s wrestling on the staff. Feel free to use this knowledge to bet on the Cubs to win it all next year and to take up a blanket collection for the Devil.

Most importantly though, this is not going to be a review that spends paragraphs describing matches hold for hold or transcribing interviews like CRZ back in the day.  Like the picture of the old crone or the young lady, it’s all about perspective. Sometimes it will be serious, sometimes not, but hopefully it won’t suck. (lack of suckage is not guaranteed or implied by any above statement.)

Monday Night Raw
October 20, 2014

Video package of last week’s events.  Dean Ambrose gets the contract AND a handshake from John Cena. I bet Dean hasn’t washed his hand all week. Also I have a shiny dime for anyone who can explain why the Authority would put their golden boy Seth Rollins in the HITC cage against either Ambrose or Cena. And speaking of the Authority here they come.

Authority Interview

Orton is wearing pants and sadly does not give the RKO to any giraffes on his way to the ring. Kane looks ready to run for mayor of a mid-sized suburb, the kind that gets excited about getting a new TJ Maxx. HHH makes sure to put himself over as the king of the cell even though he’s not on the card. Somewhere Dusty Rhodes is taking time off from teaching Prince Devitt to drive and smiling at H’s fine self-promotion.

I don’t think I would be able to listen to Seth Rollins for more than two minutes if he was telling me he had a time machine and a broker ready to sell me Apple stock at $6 a share.

I always enjoy the bashing of the local sports team. Especially when they’re in the playoffs. It’s one of those wonderfully simple things a heel can do to get some quick hatred. Sometimes the old gimmicks are ageless.

And the segment ends with Kane setting of the ringposts. That kind of waste of resources is the sort of thing that can cost a guy an election. He’ll need to promise to bring in a Five Guys if he wants to have a chance in November.

Would it be too tinfoil hat of me to wonder if HHH purposely surrounded himself with three of the worst promo guys in the company just so he can seem even cooler? And has he ever explained his role in Benghazi?

Usos & Sheamus vs. Dust Brothers and Miz Mizdow: The Rhodes boys seem to be having fun with this whole Cosmic Key thing. It’s nice to see them making the best of what has become a dud of an angle. Sadly, the loss of momentum means Goldust probably only comes in second for the Wrestler of the Year voting.

“Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.” Mel Brooks seems to have informed Sheamus’s idea of comedy.

Miz decided to let Mizdow wrestle in his place.  This really is best for all involved.

Cody Rhodes is having an absolute blast with his gimmick. He is invested 100% and that makes me want to watch him doing it even though I know he should be in a much better position.

Okay, serious question.  How in the hell does anyone listen to these three idiots for over three hours? It’s only 37 minutes into the show and I am seriously considering pouring rubber cement into my ears just to make the pain stop. Layfield just babbles about whatever pops into his mind or his earpiece, Cole has become totally unlistenable, and there is at least a 25% chance that Lawler’s brain died when he had that heart attack and he is now some sort of pedophile zombie.  I hate all three of them and I hope they wake up one day to find their mouths shut like Keanu in The Matrix.

Wyatt Family Vignette

Earlier this month I went to a haunted house. It was a fun time and lots of good jumpy sort of scares. Everything was set up to be over the top in its scariness with mad doctors and creepy midgets and blood and gore. You were never really scared of it but you appreciated the effort that went into the production and you knew the things you saw were wonderful simulations of frightening things.

A couple of years ago on Thanksgiving I saw a wicked car accident. But the memorable part wasn’t watching the sports car blow past at 110 MPH. It wasn’t seeing him unable to hold a turn and ending up flipping the car and sliding to a stop upside down. The part I will remember forever was the face of the guy who got out of the car that was hit by the sliding upside down sports car. It was the angriest man I’d ever seen in my life. And he was heading towards the upside down sports car. I told the 911 operator they had better hurry getting help to the scene because I was pretty sure that there was going to be a murder without a hint of remorse happening any moment.

Why am I telling you these stories? Partially because I’m a lonely person who needs more friends, even if they’re just people on the internet looking to find out if Dolph Ziggler won this week. But mainly because when I watch this piece I think of these stories.  Bray Wyatt is a carnival haunted house. I enjoy the gimmick because of how it is played, but not because he’s spooky and creepy. I just like watching him be all the Southern Gothic.

But Luke Harper.  He f’n terrifies me. He looks like he has eaten more than one person and only complained that the meat should have been marinated a bit longer.

AJ Lee vs. Alicia Fox w/Paige: This one is going to be difficult. Not because I don’t like women’s wrestling. Quite the opposite. I just spent this last weekend watching 16 hours of women’s wrestling at the world famous Eagles Club in Berwyn, IL. And it’s not easy to go from matches where the women are taken seriously, where the crowd is excited to see them give their all, and the matches are given plenty of time to build to something wonderful.  Oh and the announcers aren’t spending the entire time finding new ways to say “Women. Why they so crazy?!” and discussing 75 year old movies. So instead of thinking about this truncated piece of mediocrity let’s just all go to Youtube and watch this awesome match from SHIMMER Vol. 43.

Seth Rollins and Randy Orton have a conversation. I’ll sum up for you.

Hulk Hogan and DX on the Network. Not sure if this means they think Hogan and DX equal network buys or if they just don’t trust Hogan on TV any more.

Randy Orton Interview

Randy Orton is not impressed with Seth Rollins being helpful, Ned Yost’s refusal to quit making bad basestealing decisions, or John Cena.

Ummmm…I don’t think you ride a nickelodeon John. Also Cena is making fun of Orton for being behind the times while wearing a Keep Calm And… shirt.

Oh my god they keep going back the Royals well. Somewhere in New Zealand Lorde is yelling at the TV and saying “Enough with the Royals”  This is because Lorde is a total stats geek and has a subscription to Baseball Prospectus. In her spare time she works on improving defensive metrics.

OH THANK GOD IT’S PAUL HEYMAN. I don’t care what he says. He can give me his top 100 pastrami sandwiches in the U.S. right now and I’ll call it the best promo of the night. Also anyone reading this who had a good pastrami sandwich to recommend please do send them along. I like pastrami.

Little kid dressed as Bray Wyatt is the best kid. If I knew I could have a kid that would want to dress as Bray I would probably not sell it on the black market.

John Cena is really the worst face in the company. He beats up defenseless managers, he…wait Orton RKO’d Heyman instead. Still no giraffe though.

Rusev vs. Big E. Langston: Ever since the series of tweets where the lost and lamented Kaitlyn threatened Big E’s My Little Pony and he revealed its name was Pon E. Langston I’ve been a Big E. fan.

I bet Lana is the reigning Words With Friends champ in the locker room. Excellent use of “excrement” in her post-match promo.

This is why you always bring your own damn flag.

Stunt army man? That’s a new one. Probably not the best idea if you don’t want to encourage idiots to hit the ring every time the mean evil Russians do something to denigrate (I issue an open challenge to Lana at WwF!) the United States. Unless it somehow leads to a totally wasted Kurt Angle running in without anyone in the company having a clue it was going to happen.

I want a screensaver that is just the Big Show’s giant face smiling and bopping along to Sousa marches. - Rusev WWEWait, we’re still doing this through the commercial break? I applaud the somewhat different formatting of the show, but we’re still at multiple segments devoted to Big Show being angry because Rusev is just so damn Russian.

Judging by the thick gurgling in Big Show’s voice I’d say the Smokin’ Giant character from WCW wasn’t much of a stretch for him. He sounds like my grandfather who smoked unfiltered camels every day for 60 years. One day he might make a moving PSA about his mistakes in life while talking through a voice box.

A thought on the Big Show. I have no credibility to maintain so I can come right out and say it.  For the last 3-4 years I have enjoyed Show’s character pretty much consistently. For the past few years his character has just “Big Show”. Whether heel or face he’s a big guy who doesn’t take any of this too seriously. He’s been around so long that nothing (USA USA USA USA notwithstanding) really bothers him since he knows three months from now everything except John Cena will be different. His self-awareness is so complete that he almost gains understanding of the fictional world he lives in. Sometimes when the night breeze is cool and the hotel bed is large enough for him to rest comfortably, just as his mind is making the transition from waking to sleep, for a moment the Big Show understands it all. He knows it is all just a dodge to get the marks to drop their cash to see the guys pretend to fight. He tries to fight off sleep long enough to write it down or tell someone what he knows. He has seen behind the curtain. He struggles like he is trying to fight off a sleeperhold in one of these pantomimed fights he does every night. His consciousness ebbs, his mind’s arm rises and falls once, twice, three times. The giant sleeps, dreaming of the great fights to come, waiting for the time he can stay awake long enough to catch that thought and send us into the streets to look up to the silent heavens.

Dean Ambrose/John Cena promo

Speaking of self-awareness it’s Dean Ambrose. His self-awareness goes so far into the depths of knowing it’s all a huge joke that he careens right on past being Jonathan God and just becomes Dean Ambrose. Ambrose is so filled with the character of Ambrose that I am pretty sure he actually DID go to Coney Island and steal a hot dog cart.

I guess you could say much the same about John Cena, but that would mean he’s really thick all the time and I don’t want to imagine that he could possibly be that way 24/7. Then I read about him dropping Mandarin in press conferences in Asia and I realize he really is John Cena at all times.

Double boos for Cena not just using the whole Superman/Batman dynamic that we all know can only truly be used for Cena vs. Punk, but then the painfully obvious reference to Ambrose as the Joker.  The difference between Cena and Ambrose. Cena can’t even convincingly use these basic pop culture references. Ambrose makes them sound like something he would have thought of and said in conversation. Cena may be Cena 24/7, but Cena is also a robot that exists to wrestle and make money for Vince McMahon. Dean Ambrose is what remains of a guy who got way into character and is now the hybrid of a guy who used to not be a wrestler and a guy who is never going to be a normal man again.

Brie Bella vs. Summer Rae: This crowd is way too into Brie Bella. I want to bring them to my poetry readings because they’re the most easily entertained people. Being in the World Series has made them all insane and lose all sense of discernment. I’m afraid to check out Yelp reviews of McDonalds in KC because they’re probably all five stars.

Screw it, you want to give me another piffle (that’s right. A PIFFLE!) of a diva’s match, I’m just going to link to another SHIMMER match. Enjoy this.

Dean Ambose Promo

This is almost certainly not the first time than Ambrose has been violent with a mannequin.

I am not sure this really is PG. Though I still giggle a little at the word “testicles” and I’m not ashamed of it.  Well, a bit ashamed.  In fact please don’t tell anyone about this.

Seth Rollins asking Ambrose where his watermelons and sledgehammer was probably the most clever thing he has ever said.

Three shot with Rollins, Joey Mercury, and kid dressed as Bray Wyatt. Rollins is by far the least cool person in that shot.

Hey look it’s Mick Foley.  Remember when that used to be a special thing to see? Not that Mick isn’t still awesome. His one-man show is a must see. But at this point the patented Mick Foley delivery is just forced nowadays. The intensity feels like watching a Baptist preacher practicing his sermon in front of the mirror. The fire and the brimstone followed by a nice healthy breakfast to get ready for the day.

As this goes on I find myself getting angry. Angry because Mick is giving what by any objective measure is a very good promo. He’s telling the truth and he’s still got that face that radiates passion. But it’s empty. It’s a simulacrum of a hardcore legend. He’s the world’s best Mick Foley impersonator. I’m not unhappy to see him, but given how the segment ended it’s almost like Ambrose and Rollins were nice to the befuddled hobo who wandered the ring, let him talk some, and then pointed him towards the back where he could get a nice warm meal at catering.

On a side note inspired by Mick’s shirt I would like to say that I once was a Santa Claus at a K-Mart.  I was supposed to work 6 weekends.  After the third I was let go because the children kept crying when they got close to me.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Cesaro: Almost two and a half hours into the show and we’re doing this? And putting a commercial break two minutes in? I can’t help but feel like WWE heard about me getting this gig and decided to test me right from the break.

In the spirit of fairness I will give JBL credit. The line “we used to fight over beer and chicks, now they fight over tweets” was pretty good and something I thought just before he said it.

This match is the definition of a background match. The kind of you leave on in the background and listen for the crowd reactions. When you hear the OOOOH you hit the 15-second rewind button so you can see what happened while you were on Twitter trying to figure out what the hell the #prayforspencer trending topic is about. It shouldn’t be. Cesaro is amazing and Ziggler is what happens when you replace a guy’s protein powder with pixie sticks on a nightly basis. And there’s some sort of belt involved.  Shame WWE doesn’t give a damn about secondary titles. Wouldn’t WM 3 have been so much better if Steamboat pinned Savage 40 times before their Mania match?

Authority Promo

Randy Orton hates many things. Pants hold a special place of loathing in his heart. Meanwhile Kane is showing us how he plans to keep order at city council meetings.

Why exactly is Kane so loyal to the Authority? I don’t really see what benefits he gains from them. Is he getting health insurance? Because I imagine offering WWE paid health insurance could probably turn anyone outside of Cena right into a lackey. Cena of course being made of adamantium doesn’t need their puny medical care.

Hell in a Cell promo

Since this is a nostalgia segment, let’s be nostagic:

Things in this segment that I miss:

  • Vince McMahon’s shouty commentary. “THAT’S GOTTA BE KANE!’
  • Jim Ross’s commentary
  • Shawn Michaels
  • Blood

Things in this segment I do not miss:

  • HHH winning matches
  • Undertaker
  • Randy Orton’s continuing employment

Wyatt Family Video

We’ve already seen that Bray Wyatt promo.  No need to look back in anger. Luke Harper still eats people and that’s the important takeaway from this segment.

Hulk Hogan is wearing pink, like many of the people on this show. I really hate to see a reputable organization lowering itself to associate with a bunch of double-dealing carnies who have no real reason to exist except to separate marks from their money by selling them on something that they don’t really deliver on. Hopefully next year during October WWE can smarten up and deal with something less scummy than Susan G. Komen.

John Cena and Dean Ambrose vs. Kane and Randy Orton and Seth Rollins: So it wouldn’t be fair to say this match put me to sleep given that I was watching it at 2am. But yeah, the match put me to sleep.  If it can do it a second time 6 hours later I’m going to save it and upload it to Youtube as a hypnotic program to help you get to sleep.

It’s been many years since I was at school when a post-class rumble was going to go down after that last bell rang. Do you remember the anticipation of knowing your classmates, and sometimes even your friends, were going to throw down. No rules, no civility, anything goes. I never missed one of those occasions. I couldn’t. My presence was required because I had a very important task.  That’s right. I brought the tag ropes to all the street fights.

Wife just walked into the room. Saw Cena doing the Five Knuckle Shuffle, shook her head, and said “it’s always Cena” before walking out. She’s been saying this for years. I think she may have invented the #CenaWinsLOL hashtag without even knowing it.

Kane is showing his acumen at handling work crews and getting things done. This might give him a chance in that mayoral race after all. He should probably make sure to give the voters one last carrot though. Promise them a new Chipotle.

I know I’m underselling this match, but really until the end when Dean Ambrose goes into crazy-ass whirling dervish mode there’s nothing of import happening. Watching Dean Ambrose be violent in the Cell is the sort of thing I will happily pay my $9.99 per month for. That’s the sort of thing I want to see. Dean Ambrose brings a legitimate spark to his work that is desperately needed with guys going through the same motions they’ve been going through for over a decade now. Outside of a Corporate Cena wearing suits and talking slowly there’s literally nothing that Cena, Orton, and Kane can do to or with each other that isn’t a callback to what they have done before.

Oh dear god speaking of which please tell me we’re not getting another Orton face run. That will only be acceptable if…you guessed it. Giraffe riding entrance.

As someone who remembers Tyler Black and was bored to tears by The Age of the Fall it still kind of confuses me slightly when I see him getting the last guy standing at the end of the show treatment. I’m not mad and he’s earned it with some excellent ringwork and honest efforts at character improvement. It’s just odd.

I’m a sucker for the guy standing on the Cell shot. It just looks perfect every time they do it. One man, alone in an arena of thousands, atop the very thing that is going to possibly break him soon. Seth Rollins is riding the tiger. Can he possibly find a way to both get off the tiger’s back and survive?

The only answer to that?  RKO the damn tiger and ride it off into the sunset.

Final Thoughts

Of all the episodes of Raw that I’ve seen, that was the most recent. Thanks to Christopher Daniels for teaching me that very friendly way to crap on something you’ve just seen.

It was a show. Some things happened that we might look back on in a few months and say they really got their start tonight. We may not be particularly happy about these things (Orton’s face turn for instance) but nonetheless they may be things we have to deal with.

I know this is something that has been said a million times but as this was the first time I’ve watched this show beginning to end with no skipping through segments I really don’t know how people can listen to the announcers every single week.  They made me hate words. They made me yell at my tv for betraying me by letting such awfulness come across its screen. My tv yelled at me for foisting such terrible announcing upon it. We hugged and made up and realized that Jerry Lawler and JBL were tearing us apart. We danced the night away, whispering sweet nothings about Jim Ross and Bob Caudle and Joey Styles to each other.

Much like everything about WWE these days very little was actively bad. The wrestling outside of the Brie Bella match was anywhere from ok to quite good. But the wheels are just spinning and spinning and the mud is flying and we don’t go anywhere. Next week the Usos and the Dust Brothers will feud. Cesaro and Dolph and Sheamus and Miz and Miz2 will circle around the midcard trading meaningless titles and pointless wins.  I harp a lot on investment in the product as the key to aesthetic success. I want to care. But the story has to be worth caring about. Dean Ambrose’s story is worth caring about. It is the shining exception in the dung heap of rules.

This show is American cheese. The store brand slices. It won’t kill you. You won’t starve if you eat it, and if you’re a little drunk and tired it can even taste a little comforting on a grilled cheese. But it doesn’t make you close your eyes and make coital noises. It doesn’t leave you wondering if there’s a limit to how much cheese you can eat without dying of a cheese overdose. It’s just there to fill your need and send you on your way.

Enjoy Hell in the Cell. Go to if you want to start a petition to have me fired. Wear sunscreen. Eat good cheese.