Monday Night Raw
October 27, 2014
San Antonio, Texas 

Thanks to everyone who said nice things about last week’s review. It is much appreciated. Be sure to tell your friends and neighbors to check out this week’s effort. Tell strangers too. Bank teller? Pass a note suggesting she check out the review. Your weed dealer? Tell him to hit the bong and read VoW. Your cheesemonger? Ask for a nice triple creme Brie (not Bella) and point her to the website to enjoy this. 

10,000 hours. 

That number gets tossed around as the benchmark for become an expert or a phenom or what have you at what have you. And it seems like a pretty good number to use for signifying expertise or at least a solid body of experience. 

10,000 hours.

That represents probably a bit more than half of the time I’ve spent watching pro wrestling in my life.

10,000 hours. 

I have watched that and then nearly watched it again. With all those hours I’ve been filled with joy and enraged to the point of near madness. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen a PPV show end as terribly as last night’s debacle. I spent 15 minutes telling my TV that it best never show me such a thing again. I was so dismayed I drafted a letter to Rich telling him I was quitting to spend my time doing better things like starting a weekly “Two and a Half Men” review site. I changed from Coke to Pepsi just to avoid the sense memory that will inevitably follow due to drinking a Coke while watching that shitshow. Even the damn Undertaker levitating to heaven at Royal Rumble 94 at least had camp value to laugh about. It also had Tenryu. Two points to zero. 

On that note let’s see what the show has in store for me. 

Sean vs. Sean’s DVR: Absolute squash with a banana peel finish. 13 minutes of the DVR ignoring the series recording and rubbing its bootlaces against my face. Thankfully the refrigerator’s music played and distracted the DVR long enough for me to roll it up and start recording Raw in the process. I give it ***** and Meltzer says it was the best thing he’s seen this side of 1973 roller derby and underground Vale Tudo from Brazil that may or may not actually be a snuff film. 

Hey, where the hell is the traditional summary of what happened in the opening segment? 

I’m going to have to go find out what the hell happened. Thankfully we’re about to have this match so I’ll be able to get away with paying the slightest of attentions to this one. 

WWE Tag Team Championship – Dust Bros. (c) vs. Big Show and Mark Henry: Should I even bother reviewing this? I’ll just type “Mark Henry turns heel. The shock has me crashing upon my fainting couch” and leave it ready to copy and paste a few lines from now 

JBL beats me to the “why are they chanting USA when everyone is American” joke. This day keeps getting worse.

Okay, read what happened in the first segment. Would you buy it if I said I threw that match against the DVR? Does Rollins have to cash in his Money in the Bank contract in order to fight for the biggest title in wrestling? Sure belts are nice and all, but fighting John Cena is pretty much the end game. If you fight Cena and can somehow be yourself instead of “guy fighting Cena” you’re made pretty much forever.

More on this later. Still processing the moment. Mark Henry turns heel. The shock has me crashing upon my fainting couch.

If this somehow leads to a fatal four way of Rusev, Henry, Show and Swagger then the angle is worth it. Being WWE the odds are better that somehow Big Show ends up in blackface to parody Henry. Or Henry becomes a Communist. That would be kind of awesome/ He could walk up to random students on the quad and tries to get them to take a copy of the Socialist Worker and come to their vegan supper to discuss the capitalist abuse of the proletariat and how showering is a tool of oppression. 

Winners: Dust Bros. Losers: American Pride

Mark Henry is a believable sort of man. I hope Renee Young could feel the passion in his voice. I think she did. She looked a little flushed.

Oh God they’re calling Roman Reigns “the Juggernaut”. He’s totally going to be dropping the “I’m the Juggernaut, bitch!” line relatively soon isn’t he?

Speaking of Juggers, anyone else remember the movie “The Blood of Heroes” with Rutger Hauer? That was an odd little film. The kind of film that seems mind-blowing when you run into it on Showtime or Encore at 2am.

In fact, I think we could use a list. The internet likes lists right? Let’s DO THIS! Awesome TV discoveries found in dead of night channel flipping:

  • Series 7: The Contenders – Dramatization of a reality show where people kill each other. I was so out of it and it was so cheap and dirty I thought maybe some Canadian tv channel had finally gone for the full reality tv monty.
  • Blood of Heroes – Post apocalyptic rugby. Rutger Hauer in that weird post-Blade Runner pre-Hobo With a Shotgun era. I admit I cheered when the last skull was plonked down so Rutger’s team won.
  • Really obscure old 30’s films – Our local ABC affiliate, for reasons I cannot begin to discern, for years would play the most forgettable movie at 3am on Saturday night. Not campy Svengoolie sort of things. Just really mediocre old films. I hope in 2080 some TV station is beaming Sandra Bullock rom-coms and Freiberg/Seltzer movies into the frontal lobe of insomniacs and drunkards in the wee hours.
  • Knife Collector’s Show No more need be said.

Fine. I’ll get on with it. But seriously. Go to the forums or the comments and let me know what awesome things you’ve stumbled on in the times when no one’s watching.

WWE Divas Championship AJ Lee (c) vs. Alicia Fox: Well apparently AJ isn’t gone. I never said my predictions were good, so don’t blame me if you owe your neighborhood bookie some cash. My predictions are purely for entertainment purposes. Unless I’m right. Then I’m the love child of Nostradamus and Our Lady of Fatima after a Port and Bourdeaux bender. 

Alicia Fox may disprove that whole 10,000 hours thing.

And of course right as I say that she busts out a pretty solid Northern Lights suplex. It’s no Nicole Matthews, but certainly not bad.

Look, I’m as keen on random lesbianism as the next guy. But the endless teasing in this AJ/Paige/Alicia cluster is just boring. 

Paige is at least finally settling into a character. While jealous crazy woman is pretty much the extent of character development WWE can do for a woman these days she’s inhabiting it well. Like Jerry Stiller on King of Queens you do what you can to elevate the material. 

A rollup finish. Good to see them stretching themselves creatively.

Enjoyed the post match beatdown by Paige. She showed some fire in knocking Fox all over the ringside area. Given her lineage she should be good and knocking the crap out of people in a brawl.

Winner: AJ Lee rollup after Paige distracts Alicia

Hey look! John Cena! and he’s reached a level of self-fellating that HHH and Dusty Rhodes would nod respectfully towards.

While Rev. Cena is rambling about the Spurs and the future and such let’s go back to that Seth Rollins thing I was going to talk about earlier. See the thing is that with Cena despite the catchphrase…

Ah crap. Here’s Stephanie McMahon. Back to this later. As for Steph I’m willing to admit her heel work has been solid in this run but I still get the reflexive willies whenever she appears. I just keep waiting for Lucy the dog to appear.

Crow eating time. Steph is dropping some serious knowledge here. The fourth wall is vibrating a bit. She’s kicking some tropes in the teeth here. Mick Foley is crying at how she’s torching cheap pop techniques. She isn’t just attacking the character of John Cena. She’s digging at the man who wakes up the morning (presumably) not wearing a t-shirt with his picture on it or wristbands he gets royalties from. She’s telling John Cena, guy from Massachusetts, former Gold’s Gym lackey turned wildly famous professional wrestler that the character he has invested himself in for over a decade is a fraud. That he is a fraud for not being able to pull himself away from that role. She is pleading with him to come back to reality. She says “John, you carry the name at all times but must you carry the burden of always being John Cena, Superstar? Isn’t it time you found a way to let yourself be John Cena, man who plays a character named John Cena in the WWE?” Stephanie McMahon is pleading for all of us. To make John understand someone else can do the Make-a-Wish visits, and go learn Mandarin to impress investors in Chongqing. Stephanie McMahon, a woman for whom the blurring of reality and The Show was so complete that her life was altered permanently in the process, is trying to save John Cena from himself. Not the character of John Cena. That she doesn’t care about except for how it plays in the story. Stephanie is trying to save a man’s life from the slow suicide that comes with never being able to lay down your burdens and let someone else take the load for a while. John Cena is the superman. Always strong, always ready to fight for good. But you can’t fight forever. Superman died. Rocky Balboa ended up with brain damage. Hulk Hogan ended up on a reality show. Every word of that exchange was scripted, but there was subtext that went for miles below the surface. Lay down beside the still waters for a while John, and let your weariness go. 

Sorry about that ramble. Back to business

Traditional Survivor Series match?! This sort of thing just makes you a face to me Steph. Now can we just move the show back to Thanksgiving night? I want to cram my face with pie and wait for the giant egg to crack.

Stephanie McMahon is doing work, and the complexity of it makes Cena so damn one-dimensional it is painful. I really wish that she was playing off a character who had any chance at all of showing depth. But there’s just a t-shirt and armbands and cheerleading. I never thought I would say this, but Steph deserves better to work with. The giant hunk of plywood is adding nothing to the scene.

This whole thing would be so much more convincing if they weren’t talking to a guy who loses 2 matches per year. I love the story HHH and Steph are trying to tell. But it’s like reading an Exquisite Corpse. The stories are being written with no knowledge of what each side is doing. They’re trading pages between an Alan Moore comic and an old Action Comics Superman.

I would like to see them release an album of John Cena reading old poems. I’d pay $2.15 to hear Cena read The Waste Land. And $10 for the collected works of Frank O’Hara. Seriously, imagine Cena reading Poem [Lana Turner has collapsed!]

The Usos vs. Miz/Mizdow: Yeah there’s a match happening. Yeah Damien Sandow has turned into Santino Marella before our very eyes. But let’s talk about something important. Eliza Coupe and Oscar Nunez in a series. How could this fail?

 Every time these announcers talk about Hollywood it just makes my life hurt. Even the part where JBL decides that Cena’s team is going to be Hornswoggle, El Torito, and Heath Slater doesn’t fully justify their being alive on my planet. 

Mizdow’s hair makes me wonder if Wade Barrett is still alive. I miss his gavel and rising platform. It should have been used more often. Especially outside of WWE.

Almost halfway through the show and the finishes have been partner turning on partner, a distraction rollup, and twin magic based on white people not being able to tell anyone non-white people apart. We just need a music playing distraction to fill the bingo card.

Winners: Usos by racism 

Now that he’s not wrestling I can love Hulk Hogan finally. Once when I was a wee lad I remember posting on R.S.P.W. the night of Bash at the Bash 96. I’m pretty sure I said something like “everything is forgiven Hulk.” I had no idea that Age in the Cage, multiple fingerpokes of doom, and repeated pseudo-shoots were yet to come. Otherwise I would not have been so generous that night.

Now though that Hulk is able to ramble like the giant cartoon character he really is I can enjoy him more than I ever did. I hated Hogan when I was 8. I was so excited when Andre the Giant won on The Main Event.

Screw Susan G. Komen, but I’m not going to say anything bad about the end of this segment. Those women seemed to be having the times of their lives, and at least this segment had me feeling something other than apathy or disappointment. - WWE Raw October 27Bo Dallas vs. ?????: Bo Dallas and his very strange face issue an open challenge.

Ryback returns. I enjoyed the Ryback heel run before he left. Snarky tweets and calling himself “The Big Guy” was hilarious. But it appears he’s back to being dollar store Goldberg again. This does not make me excited to see him. I do like the urgency of his actions at least. He wrestles like he wants to murder someone as quickly as possible. If you’re going to be uninteresting I do appreciate you at least being quick about it. Like a homeless guy with a “Need Money For Beer” sign you get to the point nice and quick. Don’t bore us, get to the chorus.

Winner: Ryback, generally by being very big, specifically by Shellshock

If there was nothing on the back of that hoodie I would totally get the one Ambrose is wearing. The front is pretty sweet. But as always WWE can’t help but turn everything into a giant blinking sign that says “I’m a grown adult who spends money on pro wrestling.” I don’t need that kind of public vulnerability. 

Cesaro vs. Dean Ambrose: Every time Ambrose’s entrance music plays I get a little sad when it isn’t in fact “Kickstart My Heart” by Mötley Crüe.

Based on the way that this crowd has reacted to John Cena and Dean Ambrose I have decided never to visit San Antonio. Town full of damned marks I tell ya.

Seriously though, they’ve really cooled Ambrose off. Whether it is intentional or just typical WWE idiocy they certainly seem to have inoculated themselves against another Daniel Bryan situation happening when Reigns wins the Rumble this year.

I just figured out who Bray Wyatt is. He’s Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now. The cadence is what really sells it. I hope the angle leads to them revealing King Kong Bundy as the Col. Kurtz of the group.

Winner: No Contest due to hillbilly cultist doing magic to annoy the guy who never gets his security deposit back because of all the holes he punches in the drywall. 

Nikki Bella vs. Naomi: Nikki Bella is pretty good at playing a terrible person. Guess being with Cena has caused her to have trouble making the distinction between reality and…*reads Total Divas recaps* never mind. 

On the positive side living with Cena has caused Nikki to really build up strength. She does seem legitimately able to overpower all of the other normal size divas which is a nice thing to have in the division. Maybe one day we might see some matches not based around “bitches be crazy.” 

It’s funny how WWE ends up with random divas having awesome finishers. Victoria’s Widow’s Peak. AJ’s Black Widow. Paige’s Scorpion Crosslock. I can add Nikki’s Rack Attack to that list. That looks like it would hurt. Hell, it’s the best looking finisher in their household.

Winner: Nikki Bella. That’s all the people need to know. 

Dolph Ziggler vs. Kane: This show is sprinting along now. Sadly the news has been slow coming in from Kane’s mayoral campaign. Last we heard there were rumors of campaign fund abuse as Kane spent the money on slacks and pyro.

Kane does not have his working loafers on tonight. 

They gave Kane a fire extinguisher last night. I’m honestly surprised when he picked it up that he and the extinguisher didn’t collapse into a singularity and find themselves in another dimension where D-Lo Brown got the kind of push he deserved.

JBL is extolling the virtues of corporate America. Funny, I’m not sure that threatening to sodomize colleagues in the shower is in many of the leadership books that are big in the MBA programs. Except at Wharton. They totally do that sort of thing there. 

I rarely ever say “I wish so-and-so would leave WWE for the indies.” I like the idea anyone is still able to make a decent living as a wrestler. When people were rooting for Daniel Bryan to end up back in ROH because he would have better matches there I found myself feeling extra stabby. With all that said, I would love Ziggler on the indies doing crazy ass sprints that are just 12 minutes of non-stop action.

Another rollup finish. So far the cleanest finish was Nikki Bella, and even that wasn’t clean clean.

Winner: Dolph Ziggler Loser: Dolph Ziggler getting his ass kicked post match. Worst Friend Ever: John Cena, now and forever.

I feel like I have seen the final evolution of WWE. Just have all the matches played in the video game. Show it on big screen in a different arena every week.

John Cena vs. Seth Rollins: Before the match starts and we get to the inevitable interference let’s talk about John Cena for a moment or two. Specifically the fact that John Cena is the man who takes your name if you are an unworthy opponent. Bray Wyatt may be the Eater of Worlds, but Cena is the Stealer of Souls.

 On a day to day basis the ultimate goal for a WWE wrestler is a feud with John Cena. Sure main eventing Wrestlemania or having a match for The Streak have been life goals for many a grappler. Fun bit of trivia: In the last 10 years only 11 men have been in the main event of Wrestlemania. Know who they are? Answer at the end of the column. Titles may be involved but those are just decoration and a really inefficient way of keeping their Zubaz up when they’ve forgotten their fanny packs. But the title is incidental and really only means John Cena can say “The Champ Is Here” before calling you Jack. 

The real prize is not a belt. It’s your identity. When you wrestle against Cena you are being put to the most important test of all. Do you have a name?

 Obviously everyone has a name that Lillian Garcia is going to shout when the introductions are happening. But does that name matter to anyone? When the bell rings will the crowd care who you are? Or is your name simply “Cena Sucks”? As much as we laugh at the trope that you can’t be a real champ or whatever until you beat John Cena it really is the truth.

CM Punk had been on WWE tv for five years before the legendary Money in the Bank match. But that was the night Punk earned his name to apparently be chanted until AJ Lee comes home to Wicker Park and Punk Manor. Daniel Bryan was a beloved underdog going into Summerslam 2013. When the crowd chanted his name throughout the match he took his name (and the Yes chant) for good.

It’s easy to remember the guys who were able to win their greatest battle for their identity. They’re rare and special. The casualty list is much longer. R-Truth, Miz, Sandow, Umaga, Del Rio, Legacy, Nexus, Morrison, Ziggler. I’ve never watched The Wire, but I do know that one of the lines people quote from that show applies here. “When you come at the King, you best not miss.” A Cena feud is the highest of risks with the highest possible reward. At the end of a program with Cena you are either a made man and a perennial main eventer, or you’re a zombie shuffling your way back down into the midcard. There is seemingly no in between. Either you are a legend, or you are “Cena Sucks”.

 Seth Rollins, you’re up. Let’s see how it goes.

I really hope that we never end up with Mercury vs. Noble in an Evening Gown Match. 

Did Jerry Lawler call Seth Rollins a “dogboy”? He would be more effective as a CatDog.

It is really odd to watch a Cena match and hear the crowd reacting in a normal face/heel dynamic. I’m assuming that Cena spent most of the night asking Vince to move Raw to San Antonio permanently. Or bring the entire crowd with them on the road.

There is a severe lack of urgency in this match. They’re doing things and they’re doing them competently but the whole match feels like a time killing exercise. For someone who wanted nothing more than to get his hands on Rollins there is no sense of anger from Cena in this match. 

The many chinlocks of Seth Rollins. He has learned at the feet of Master Orton I see. This is not helping me stay awake. And I am watching this after having gone to bed for the night.

Someone got their scripts mixed up. That’s the Royal Rumble go-home ending. This kind of mixing up of predictable events is unacceptable. Next you’ll have people pointing at the Survivor Series banner in order to set up matches.

“3 seconds ago there’s 30 people in the ring. Now there’s just John Cena. What the hell?” As usual my wife sums things up perfectly. I would have her write the review but then she also just said “I miss Hornswoggle” so we can’t take everything she says too seriously. But she’s right about the Cena thing. She’s always right about the Cena thing.

Winner: John Cena, Now and Forever.

This ends another week of Raw. A lot of dreck with a few high level performances scattered about. Stephanie was absolutely superb. HHH was solid as well. Nikki Bella and Paige both showed some sparks tonight. Frank O’Hara wrote some awesome poems. Ryback at least brought a renewed sense of urgency to his work. And Shawn Leflar broke an unbreakable katana. Good show to all of you. Everyone else needs to step up their game before performance evaluations are due. And you dear reader. You’re the best around. Barry Horowitz self back pats for you. 

(HHH, Shawn Michaels, Chris Benoit, Batista, John Cena, Edge, Undertaker, Randy Orton, Miz, The Rock, Daniel Bryan are the 11 WM main eventers since WM 20)